By: Kerrie Wu
On January 18, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Robertson High School (RHS) as one of 13 Model Continuation High Schools in California, in recognition of the opportunities and services it offers for students who struggle in traditional high schools.
The purpose of the Model Continuation High School Recognition Program, a partnership between the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Continuation Education Program, is “to identify and recognize outstanding programs and to create a resource list of quality programs that other schools can visit and emulate and districts can use when planning to establish new continuation high schools,” according to the CDE press release. Fifteen schools applied and 13 were selected after on-campus evaluations. Applicants were required to be accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
RHS serves students over the age of sixteen who are at risk of not graduating high school. According to RHS Principal Salvador Herrera, Jr., RHS utilizes several different resources and techniques that make it a model for other continuation high schools. The trimester schedule limits newly referred students to three enrollment periods each year so that they do not enter instruction midway through a term. This system also allows students to complete 90 credits per school year as opposed to 60 credits on a semester schedule, so students can catch up on credits and accelerate their individual course completion timelines. In the classroom, RHS teachers use Action Learning Systems teaching strategies, which emphasize student engagement, research-based instructional tactics, and standards-based learning objectives. Struggling students receive additional help from teachers other than the classroom teacher during class.
Regarding how RHS plans to continue to improve, Herrera said, “We are excited to be involved with the implementation of the new national, common core standards… We are looking forward to working with coaches and colleagues to continue to improve the instructional practices and to help ensure student success on these standards.”
RHS will hold the title of Model Continuation High School for three years, serving as an exemplary model for California’s 504 continuation schools that served more than 69,000 students in the 2011-12 school year. During this time, RHS must submit annual statements affirming that it is continuing its excellence in order to remain a Model Continuation High School, according to a CDE press release.
Herrera said, “There is a negative stigma attached to continuation high schools in almost every city in which they exist. We want to change the negative stereotypes about our school and provide a truly alternative educational setting, in which students who were unsuccessful in a traditional high school setting can finally find academic and personal success.”