AdvancePath Academy at Dundalk High is expanded
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 10:29

Program now available all day for students

by Bill Gates

    The AdvancePath Academy, started at Dundalk High in January 2010, has been a success in helping students catch up with missed schoolwork and graduate on time.
    But it was a limited success, in that the program was only available during certain times.
    “We had it just in the afternoon [after school] and a few evenings a week.” Dundalk principal Tom Shouldice said.
    The afternoon session was for Dundalk High students, while the evening classes were for students from all over the county.
    That changed when the new Baltimore County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Dallas Dance, was introduced to the program last summer.
    Dr. Dance was so impressed with the AdvancePath Academy, when Shouldice asked if it was possible to make it a full-day program, Dance found the $500,000 necessary to make it so.

    “AdvancePath at Dun-dalk High is how we should be doing credit recovery,” Dr. Dance said. “It ensures that students stay on track to graduate on time and with the skills they need to transition successfully to college or career.”
    “At Dundalk, I saw a program that was providing this valuable instruction to students, and in a format that worked. But it was a part-time effort. In order to have the most powerful impact with our students, anything short of full-time is unacceptable.”
    Dundalk High now has a morning session and an afternoon session for the AdvancePath Academy, with four core teachers present every day.
    “We have a range of kids in here,” Shouldice said. “Kids who need one or two courses to graduate, to kids who want to take upper-level courses they couldn’t fit into their schedules.”
    There are 44 students enrolled in the day program, and four have already earned credits, according to program direction Cindy Cairns.
    The evening program is completely full, with 50 students. It is open to any high school student in the Baltimore area who needs to recover credits or earn credits to graduate.
    Since being introduced at Dundalk High nearly three years ago, the AdvancePath program has improved the graduation rate, decreased the dropout rate and provided opportunities for students for whom traditional classrooms just didn’t work, Shouldice said.
    Just about every course offered at Dundalk High is available in the AdvancePath Academy, save for tech ed courses and physical education.
    “Two students wanted to take calculus, but didn’t have the prerequisites,” Cairns said. “But they were able to take pre-calculus during the summer.
    “We also see students take electives like psychology.”
    Students earn credits by scoring at least a ‘B’ (80 percent) in the subject they’re studying through AdvancePath.
    “The validity of the program is monitored by end-of-course assessment,” Shouldice said. “When the course ends, students take an exam.”
    Students study in an almost business-like atmosphere, sitting in cubicles while working on computers.
    Each student gets individualized, self-paced, computer-based coursework.
    Teachers work with groups of three to four students.
    Students can also work online from home, taking tests and quizzes, and the school will loan them a laptop computer if one is needed.
    Dr. Dance has expanded the AdvancePath Academy to Woodlawn and Overlea high schools.    
    There was already a program at Chesapeake High.
     AdvancePath will move into the new Dundalk High building along with the rest of the school next year.
    It will even grow, with the new facility having 60 workstations as compared to the current 42.
    And it’s not just students who need to “catch-up” that are taking advantage of AdvancePath.
    “We have students in the program because it lets them move faster than the school lets them move,” Shouldice said.