CUSD report

Hopes full-time option will bring back students who left

In an effort to retain students and bring back some who left to study online, the Cloverdale Unified School District is adopting a full-time independent study program. The program, run through the Edmentum software, is expected to be available to Cloverdale High School students this coming school year.

“The program will launch in the fall, with students able to enroll starting Aug. 1,” CUSD Superintendent Jeremy Decker said. “We are excited about inviting students back to the district who have left the district for this type of program before we offered an online, homeschool oriented learning experience. In fact, we have already been notified that a few students are committed to returning.”

Over the past two years, the district has lost 20 students who have chosen to instead attend online classes or be homeschooled; this loss is a contributor to the district’s 65-student enrollment loss from 2018 to 2019.

“It is our goal to invite them back and provide them the kind of program that the student needs,” Decker said.

Those enrolled in the program full time will still be required to meet with a CHS teacher periodically, Decker said. The student can meet in person, or virtually.

The program will be run by the administration at CHS, and students participating will have the option of having a hybrid schedule, where they can attend classes in person as well.

“We have made the decision that all testing will be done in-person with our CHS independent study teacher,” he added. “There are learning modules, and assignments have to be completed prior to testing.”

The district knows that this program won’t be for every student, Director of Curriculum Steve Charbonneau said, so it will have a process to “ensure only those students who would succeed in such a program be enrolled.”

A parent/student handbook about the program will be published in August and a section of the handbook lists the sorts of situations that may lead to a referral into the program. Those situations include “family emergency or extenuating circumstances, financial needs or circumstances, physical or mental illness, uncontrollable life situations limiting the student’s ability to attend school on a regular basis, or as part of an effort of the family to home school.”

Additionally, Charbonneau said that requests from those interested in enrolling will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The review will determine if the administration believes the student has the capability of learning independently.

“That will be a key factor in student success for this program,” he said.

Adopting a full-time independent study program helps fill a gap in the educational options for students who, due to any of the circumstances listed above, may have trouble attending school.

Prior to the adoption of a full-time program, the CUSD already offered a short-term independent study program, as well as “home and hospital” for students who have a temporary disability and need individual instruction at their house or in the hospital. However, neither program allows students with prolonged issues or life situations to receive academic instruction that’s flexible when it comes to scheduling.

This program will also set Cloverdale apart in the educational sphere. It’s not often that unified school districts offer online, homeschool-oriented options for students, Decker said. Rather, similar independent study routes are more likely to be found at charter schools.

Since the program has yet to be rolled out, Decker said that the district doesn’t have anyone enrolled. However, he said that he’s spoken to parents who have expressed interest in having their student use the program.

This independent study program, along with another program that will only be open to students outside of the district interested in going on independent study, were unanimously approved at a March school board meeting.

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