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School enrollment over 40K, above projections


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  More than 40,000 students were signed up to attend Henry County public schools as of last week, as the opening week of the 2013-14 school year saw nearly 800 more students than officials had expected.

  According to a report given to the Henry County Board of Education at its August work session, the total enrollment as of Aug. 6 was 40,724. To break it down further, there were 17,402 enrolled in elementary school, 9,864 in middle school and 13,458 in high school.

  The projected total enrollment going into the year was 39,939. Not only was that number exceeded, but all three divisions (elementary, middle and high) saw enrollment figures above projections.

  As recently as July 17 the district enrollment was 38,293. That means more than 2,400 students were enrolled in the three weeks leading up to the first day of classes.

  Some shuffling of these numbers is expected in the weeks to come, as a number of students will be added and subtracted for various reasons. School system officials have said in past years that they like to wait until Labor Day to get the most accurate read on what the enrollment will be throughout the year.

  Enrollment projections were based on the third-month enrollment numbers from the 2012-13 school year, according to school system officials. The 40,000 mark was reached in 2009-10 for the first time and stayed there the next year. That was twice as many students as were in the county’s classrooms in 1998-99, when enrollment topped 20,000 for the first time.

  Enrollment fell slightly in 2011-12 but rebounded somewhat last year. The enrollment decrease in the fall of 2011 was the first in the county since the 1976-77 school year.

  In other school system news, among the discussion items at last week’s work session was a new policy allowing students to bypass certain classes provided they meet certain standards.

  In accordance with state Board of Education rules, a student can earn credit for a class before it even begins by achieving the “Exceeds” level on the state-designated End-of-Course Test (EOCT). This method of earning course credit is referred to as “testing out.”

  To be eligible for this opportunity, a student may not be currently or previously enrolled in the course, and must have earned a grade of B or better in a pre-requisite course that is the same as the content area for which the student is attempting to test out. The student must also obtain a counselor signature and teacher recommendation from a teacher in the most recent course in the same content area for which the student is attempting the EOCT. Students under the age of 18 must receive parent/guardian permission.

  “The ideal candidate to attempt the test-out is a student who exhibits exceptional academic record of advanced performance. Schools should carefully consider which students would benefit from such an opportunity and advise accordingly,” according to school system officials.

  “As part of the advisement process, schools should consider the likelihood for success in future courses that may require knowledge and skills that are inherent within the course. In addition, the student’s post-secondary plans and needs must be considered. The test-out option should not be exercised for students without deliberation and clear evidence of the likelihood of student success both on the test itself and in future coursework/endeavors.”

  Because testing out can only take place before a class begins, students will likely not have a chance to participate in the program until spring.



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