September 12, 2013

Students getting Intensive Care

Students getting Intensive Care

By Jerry W. Kram

A few parents were startled to get phone calls about their children from the Intensive Care Unit this week. But the phone calls weren’t from the hospital, they were from the New Town Public Schools and it was the student’s homework that needed the care, not their bodies.
Tuesday was the first day where the school district implemented its “Power of ICU” program. The program, which is in use in schools nationwide, informs parents or caregivers when their child fails to complete a homework assignment.
High School Principal John Gartner said teachers entered 215 unfinished assignments over the last few weeks. He said a few dozen families were notified by the system.
The way the system works is teachers enter the unfinished assignment into the program. Every family was urged to provide the school with two phone numbers or email addresses as contacts for the program. The program automatically generates a text message, email or phone call informing the parent or caregiver that the student has an unfinished assignment, and describes that assignment.
“We’ve had 65 percent of our kids not turning in assignments before,” said Gartner. “If we can cut that in half, or possibly do even better, student performance will be much better. Most of the schools that use this system see unfinished assignments drop by half. So if we do that, we will see the whole climate change. We’re seeing it already. This is good news, we just need to keep it going.”
Gartner said one of the keys to improving education is high parent involvement, and that is an area where New Town schools have needed to improve.
“We haven’t always been successful at that,” he said. “But now with the phone calls, the parents are going to have to be involved. First, they are hearing about the assignments so the kids can’t come home and tell them a story. They know which teacher is owed what assignment. Then it is a matter of working together to make sure the work gets done. So far, it’s been good.”
The program is being used by all High School and Middle School classes and for Fifth Graders at Edwin Loe Elementary School.
 


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