EAST CHICAGO | Failure is not an option at East Chicago Central High School.
Beginning this school year, students will not earn anything below a C. Superintendent Michael Harding said the responsibility to earn a good grade will rest with the student. He said if a student does not complete the class or is earning less than a C, there will be a variety of options available to the student to earn a satisfactory grade.
He said those options can include the school's new credit recovery program or instruction through the Internet.
Through new programs under way at Central, Harding said students also are able to reconfigure their school day to something more suitable for them.
"We have raised the expectations for students, but we are also providing them the necessary support to be successful," Harding said. "The child and his or her family has the responsibility to meet the standards, and we will help them facilitate that process. We are focused on learning.
"Students can come in later. They can spend half of the day here and half at Ivy Tech (Community College). We've taken away the barriers. We are meeting the child where he or she is at. This is a complete shift from the traditional high school model."
Central High School is one of six on probation in Lake County and 23 in the state.
Harding also emphasized the early college and middle college program that he has developed at Central.
According to the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis, the early college high school model gives students a head start on the rest of their lives. These small schools allow students to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree, or as many as two years of credit toward a bachelor's degree.
While open to all students, the model specifically serves low-income young people, first-generation college students, English language learners and students of color, all of whom are statistically underrepresented in higher education and for whom society often has low aspirations for academic achievement.
Harding is also proud of the relationship the district has developed with Apple Computer Inc.
Every teacher in the district has received a laptop computer. By the end of January, every student in grades seven to 12 will have a computer.
Elementary students will receive their computers as applications become part of the curriculum, Harding said.
He said the district is committed to providing the very best in technology available as it moves to a one-to-one computer initiative.
Harding said some naysayers who have called the system broken have no knowledge of changes in the School City of East Chicago and have not taken part in the strategic plan under way in the district.