Before the Performance Learning Center, a student would have faced the dilemma of returning to high school when falling short of completing graduation requirements. Many do not make the decision to return to school and become a drop-out statistic. That is a reality for too many teens that fall behind in their graduation requirements and lose sight of their graduation goal. The PLC’s mission is to reduce the number of students electing not to complete their graduation requirements when faced with such a decision. The PLC allows students to work at their own pace on the course work needed to complete requirements in an alternative setting that is flexible for work or family schedules. “Tylan is the first of many we expect to graduate this year from our program,” stated Melinda Strickland, principal of the Floyd County Education Center. “Excitement is brewing as teens see others reach their goals and they realize they too can be successful.” The PLC program is flexible but demanding. Students must pass course work with a grade of 80 or above to complete the course work which is 10 points higher than the requirements for regular classes. Strickland said, “We want to make sure that the students have a solid grasp of the course content when completing a class at the PLC.”
The PLC began last year with a plan to serve 35 students but grew quickly during the year. The PLC model developed by Communities in Schools creates a business-like learning environment where students complete assignments using online, computer-based curriculum. Students learn at their own pace with assistance from support teachers providing individualized instruction. The PLC also provides experiential and service learning opportunities. Students are challenged to develop marketable skills in preparation for college and/or the workplace. The PLC provides students with mentors, internships, dual college enrollment, and technical training. In addition to the CIS components of the PLC, Floyd County Schools will vary the program to include a freshmen-focused learning environment to get students prepared to face the educational challenges of high school. “We know that the decision to drop-out of school begins before high school so we feel strongly that a focus on helping our older middle school students must be a part of the PLC program,” said Dr. Lynn Plunkett, superintendent of Floyd County Schools.
The PLC enrollment this year is at 53 students. The 9th grade group has already earned 33.5 credits the first nine-week term. The remaining students in the PLC have earned 33.5 credits, with nine more pending End of Course Tests results. "What a great start for the school year," Strickland added. "The students have also participated in college and career readiness activities and service learning projects." The school also held their first parent workshop focused on accessing information to help children succeed using various resources available. Parents were encouraged to use the school system and school websites to keep up-to-date on school activities.
The PLC model has been lauded by state and federal education officials as one of the most effective strategies for improving graduation rates. In 2007, 91 percent of the nation’s PLC students improved their academic performance, and 75.7 percent of PLC students classified as seniors at the beginning of the year graduated.
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