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Program provides remedial instruction for graduation test
Math session added to ExPreSS program
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Intense remedial instruction begins today for select students who failed the math portion of the graduation test.

Project ExPreSS, or Exam Preparation for Student Success, is a free two-week program. The State Board of Education established Project ExPreSS three years ago for science and social studies areas, but this is the first time a math session has been held.

Pat Blanke, Project ExPreSS coordinator, said the math portion was needed because of transition to a Georgia Performance Standards, or GPS, based graduation test instead of the format used in
the 2010 test.

"Counselors or graduation coaches at the high schools register students," he said. "Students are enrolled based on the number of teachers at host sites. Each teacher can handle up to 25 students."

Thirteen West Hall High School students are participating in the Hall County program at Chestatee High School, one of 40 statewide.

"We feel very fortunate," West Hall Principal Greg Williams said. "We applied to get our students in there in the past and haven't been able to."

Project ExPreSS is limited to a small number of students per program site, but the exact number differs.

"I want to say we had 60 to 70, somewhere in that range," said Damon Gibbs, principal of Johnson High School, where the first Project ExPreSS was held.

Gibbs said teachers from across the area, not just Hall County, apply to work at the program.

"We have an outside vendor create, based on GPS, a manual," Blanke said. "Teachers receive the manual and they decide how to approach it and how to teach the material."

The program is designed to increase graduation rates, decrease dropout rates, improve workforce skills and improve scores on other standardized tests. Students will have face-to-face time with teachers for four hours five days a week.

"We had an extremely high pass rate at the end of that two weeks," Gibbs said.

Blanke said in 2009, the pass rates were 63 percent in science and 73 percent in social studies, and 70 percent and 63 percent in 2010, respectively.

Students enrolled in the 2011 Project ExPreSS will retake the math portion of the graduation test June 24, the day after the program concludes.

This type of remediation might not last much longer, Blanke said.

"It will be phased out," he said. "They'll have to be creative with what they do with the (End of Course Tests)."

The state budgeted $800,000 for Project ExPreSS, which includes paying $3,000 to each school district with a program site.

"That's to help out with electricity and maybe additional people the school needs to keep it running," Blanke said.


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