MILLEDGEVILLE — The Baldwin County Board of Education is continuing to explore options to increase the graduation rate and decrease dropout rates.
During the school board’s work session Monday, a representative of an alternative school program explained how the company could provide resources and services to help the district meet its goals and advance students’ skill levels.
Ombudsman Educational Services Senior Vice President of Business Development Phyllis Lucia said the company can provide an on-site or off-site learning center for at-risk students in grades six through 12, which can be more flexible than the school’s current alternative programming. Ombudsman learning centers are an extension of the public school system, meaning students are still accounted for on the district’s roster.
“Ombudsman can create a different learning environment. Students referred to the program are given a fresh start; because of their poor attendance, are over-aged, behind in credits, discipline problems or are expelled, we evaluate the student and determine where remediation is needed along their path of high school graduation,” Lucia said. “Our goal is to bring students closer to grade level so they can return back to their classroom and continue toward graduation.”
Ombudsman can offer students a more flexible learning schedule to accommodate their needs outside of the classroom. Compared to a traditional classroom setting, students also learn in a smaller environment with a low student-to-teacher ratio using a blended learning model, which includes technology in addition to teacher instruction.
“We’re able to accommodate individual lesson plans for each student. Since a lot of these students have adult responsibilities, Ombudsman helps them increase attendance so essentially the school district moves forward,” Lucia said. “One hundred percent of students are at-risk of dropping out of school; we have a success rate of about 80 to 85 percent, which means students graduate, return back to their district school closer to or at grade level, increase attendance or earn credits.”