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Becoming a Beacon for the Community in Roselle, NJ

Becoming a Beacon for the Community in Roselle, NJ

Abraham Clark High School - Roselle, NJ
Rashon Mickens
Principal
750 students, Grades 9 to 12
Courseware
67% African American
29% Hispanic
75% Economically Disadvantaged
The Challenge: 

Abraham Clark High School (ACHS) in Roselle, New Jersey, is made up almost completely of minorities, 75 percent of which are economically disadvantaged. From an outsider’s perspective, one might think this school is struggling.

Schools of that makeup tend to have common challenges with engagement, participation, and graduation. Students are pulled in so many directions that it can be hard for them to keep up with their studies. In juggling life and education, school is too often the ball that drops. When the school’s chronic absenteeism rate increased and the graduation rate slumped, the New Jersey Department of Education took notice, naming ACHS as a Priority School on the state watchlist.

That is why the staff decided to revamp the school’s credit recovery and career and technical education (CTE) approaches, moving to a blended learning approach featuring Courseware and other Edmentum products.

“We were initially attracted by the quality of the product and the great reputation of the company,” recalled ACHS Principal Rashon Mickens.

A New Jersey inner-city high school found itself on the state’s watch list. By offering students options of recovering missing credits and building relationships on a personal level, Abraham Clark High School has turned itself into a community beacon for what is possible through education.
How They Did it: 

It is important for credit recovery options to be offered at times outside of the normal school day; otherwise students needing help will just fall behind in their other coursework. ACHS opted for an after-school method that also utilized its best asset: teachers.

“Students work in labs after school from 3:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.,” said Mickens. “There are six staff members that currently monitor the program.”

Once the school had control of the blended learning model that worked for it, ACHS expanded its credit recovery program downward to 10th grade, hoping to reach students who are already in the process of slipping behind, before the mountain becomes too tall to climb.

ACHS’ career and technical education program plays a part as well, allowing students to explore careers and gain skills in personal finance, health, and computer science.


“Career and technical courses are used for students to earn additional credits in specific areas,” Mickens said. “Students often use the [Edmentum] CTE library to earn credits or to supplement the coursework.”

The ease of use and quality of instruction in the credit recovery and CTE programs have led to the school’s blended learning strategy expanding into classroom learning across the school, particularly in math and English language arts.

The staff at ACHS views data as paramount to its success, to the point where the school begins to study the available data on incoming 9th graders in the spring—before they actually step foot on campus.

This has allowed ACHS to track performance from the time a student enters the school in 9th grade. From there, ACHS can highlight struggling students and provide support in places where interventions may have come too late.

Ask educators, and they will tell you that establishing relationships is the key to the success of any teacher, school, or district.

“Our guidance department has the goal of meeting twice a month with every student, just to check in on their progress and [see] if there are any ways we can help them make progress. Just those five-minute checks can be enough for a student to push themselves harder than they would have otherwise,” said Mickens.

Of course, in order for students to be a part of the ACHS community, they need to actually attend their classes. Out-of-school suspensions were another statistic that drew the state’s attention. Working with the school board, the staff at ACHS brought some common sense to areas like dress code in an effort to keep more students within the school’s walls.

We attribute the rise in our graduation rate from the monitor of students’ performance from the time they begin as 9th graders at our institution and the offerings of [Edmentum] courses that allows our students to make up or earn additional credits that would led to on-track graduating credits.
Rashon Mickens
Principal
Success: 

Adopting blended learning for the credit recovery and CTE programs has had a revolutionary effect on ACHS’ success in preparing students for the world in college and careers. The school’s graduation rate has increased 22 percent since it started leveraging technology in those programs to an overall rate of over 90 percent.

“We attribute the rise in our graduation rate from the monitor of students’ performance from the time they begin as 9th graders at our institution and the offerings of [Edmentum] courses that allows our students to make up or earn additional credits that would led to on-track graduating credits,” Mickens relayed.

We are now attracting more bright, ambitious students than before, which will only help strengthen the learning community we have built here.
Rashon Mickens
Principal
The Future: 

After emerging from the state’s watch list and seeing its graduates move on to prestigious schools and military academies, Abraham Clark High School finds itself in a rare position for an inner-city public school.

“In the past couple of years, our enrollment has actually increased, even though there hasn’t been much population growth in the area. The reason is that more students who would have normally attended high school at a private or parochial school are making the choice of attending Clark instead,” said Mickens. “We are now attracting more bright, ambitious students than before, which will only help strengthen the learning community we have built here.”

For more infomation:

Contact 800.447.5286 or visit www.edmentum.com to learn more about Edmentum's online learning solutions.

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