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School stats show high teen success rate

Numbers show few students attending the Lawrence County Alternative School come back for a repeat stay, county board officials said.

Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Numbers show few students attending the Lawrence County Alternative School come back for a repeat stay, county board officials said.

"Really, that means it’s doing great," county superintendent Harold Shafer said. "That’s our goal, to run ourselves out of business."

Three-year statistics released in June chart the progress of the county board’s school that districts began using in 1997. Schools and courts assign discipline-plagued students there for one-on-one lessons in both classwork and social skills.

The alternative school recorded an average attendance of 38 per day, with an average stay per student of seven days, over the three years.

A total of more than 2,000 students attended the school, with an average 11 percent decrease each of the three schools years.

But the school’s percentage that experts call the recidivism rate – or a percentage measure of how many students return – prompted the most cheers, Shafer said.

It recorded an 8.38 percent rate, with only 178 repeats and 71 multiple repeats.

The trend is the most impressive part, Shafer said.

Compared to other places, like reformatories, where a recidivism rate of 50 percent is considered good, the alternative school’s success is phenomenal, he said.

Shafer credits not only a good staff but also what that staff does at the school.

"Those places (reformatories) don’t teach them what they need to know when they get out, just how to get along while they’re inside," he said. "We teach these kids if they give respect, they get respect.

"They take that lesson with them."

School districts often say that means students returning to regular classes work better with peers and teachers and cause little, if any, more discipline problems, Shafer said.

In fact, where schools across the county used to measure fights per week, they know measure fights per year, he added.

"Having it out there is a deterrent."

Parents and residents are welcome to drop by at any time, without an appointment, to see the school in operation, Shafer said.

Highlights of the alternative school’s three years of operation:

– total students at the school for one or more days number 815 in 1997-98, 665 in 1998-99 and 642 in 1999-2000.

– The high highest number were in the ninth grade: 209 students in 1997-98 school year, 173 in the 1998-99 school year and 184 in the 1999-2000 school year. Numbers came in slightly under 100 each year in the seventh grade, and averaged about 100 in the 11th grade.

– The school saw 1,537 male students and 585 female students.

– Of the total, 1,953 students were placed by schools, while 169 were placed by the courts.