Diploma Completion Program's non-traditional format helps local - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Diploma Completion Program's non-traditional format helps local teens

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - The Diploma Completion Program (DCP) is the joint effort of Chattanooga State and Hamilton County Schools. The program, located on the campus of Chattanooga State, provides students at-risk of not completing high school with an opportunity to earn their diploma. 

The students attend class in a non-traditional setting and earn credits using an online curriculum.  The online curriculum allows students to move at their own pace.  This self-paced approach benefits both the student who needs an accelerated pace and the student who needs extra time and attention. 

The program serves students age 17-19 who are enrolled in or zoned for a Hamilton County Title 1 high school and have earned a minimum of 12 core credits (enough credits to be a junior).  Students are referred from their high school, community agencies, or self. 

Each referred student will undergo a transcript evaluation and have a personal interview with the Director of the DCP to determine if this is the best fit for them.  

Once the students have been accepted into the program they attend class in a computer lab where they receive one on one or small group tutoring assistance when necessary.  Because students remain part of their home school, we maintain a close relationship to the home school by sending regular attendance and progress reports. 

Since the students are able to work at their own pace, we are able to operate on a continual enrollment basis; when one student completes his/her requirements they exit and another student is able to enroll without waiting until the next semester. 

Students in the program are required to maintain acceptable attendance and progress or risk losing the opportunity to attend the program or in many cases, receive a diploma. 

The DCP was developed by a group of educators representing the college and the school system who identified a need to increase the rate of students receiving high school diplomas.  We wanted to offer students that might not normally receive a diploma the opportunity to do so. 

Many people view at-risk students as those who have behavior  issues or who are lazy; While behavioral issues and a lack of motivation can certainly lead to decreased success in school, we have found that many times there may be  circumstances beyond a student’s control that brings them to a program like this. 

A few examples are students who have faced health issues or who entered high school late due to birthdates or being retained in grade school, or even those students needing to work to help support families.  These students often feel that a diploma is not possible for them and they give up. 

The Diploma Completion Program allows students to earn a diploma in a shorter time span, with non-traditional class times at an accelerated pace with more individualized attention. 

We have recorded that about 25% of our students have enrolled at Chattanooga State after receiving their diploma.  This is great news to us, because these are the same students who were being considered as at-risk to drop out. 

We look forward to continuing to grow and expand the program.  Chattanooga State and HCDE have been pleased with the results to date.        

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