The creation of a new and unique school is how one district plans on raising graduation rates for at risk students.
Students who are behind in their credits and at risk of not graduating will be the beneficiaries of Lawrence Advance Academy, in the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township. It won’t be a traditional school, said Principal Ron Davie, because it is based on a customized approach to learning. .
Teachers will be able to tailor a lesson to each student’s needs, as the student to teacher ratio will be 15 to 1.
“(Superintendent) Shawn Smith wanted to really look at the kids who are not quite getting the education they need to earn credits to graduate,” said Davie, who was assistant principal at Lawrence Central High School. “The goal is to get them to graduate with their cohort group.”
The new school will enroll 180 11th-graders from Lawrence Central and Lawrence North high schools who are struggling academically because of reasons they can’t control, Davie said.
“Some are behind because they had to help their family, or they went to be employed,” said Davie, who was due to retire this year but decided to take on the new job. “Some may be teen mothers. Some may not fit in a larger classroom of 25 students.”
The long-term goal, Davie said, is to increase the school district’s graduation rate.
Lawrence’s graduation rate in 2012 is 87 percent, below seven other Marion County school districts, such as Franklin, Pike, Perry, Wayne and Warren townships, Speedway Schools and Beech Grove City Schools. Lawrence’s rate is above Indianapolis Public Schools and Washington and Decatur townships.
Lawrence Central and Lawrence North high schools have graduation rates of 88 percent and 85 percent, respectively.
The new school, which is the first of its kind in Lawrence Township, will have six educators teaching science, math, English and social studies, Davie said.