Extra Help

Published 5:39 am Sunday, March 17, 2013


On any given afternoon at Pine Junior High and High School, one can see Principal Jennifer Thomas going from classroom to classroom, monitoring the flurry of activity that is ib4e.

The ib4e program, implemented this year at all junior high and high schools in the Washington Parish School System, is designed to provide 30 minutes each day when students can get extra help.

The program’s name stands for interventions before enrichment. The goal of ib4e, Thomas said, is to end student failures. It is a time when students who did not understand a lesson, who need extra help with homework or are struggling with a subject can work with their teacher one-on-one or in a small group.

Students who were absent the previous day can also make up tests or work or get a review of a lesson.

Because many students are involved in activities such as sports, it is often difficult to get them to come to afterschool tutoring, Thomas said.

“This gives that 30 minutes every day for the opportunity for them to have extra help,” she said.

Each student is assigned to an enrichment class. A variety of topics are covered, including dance, music, cooking, book club, wilderness survival, indoor/outdoor sports and many others. The most popular offering at Pine is Louisiana sportsman, Thomas said. Students switch enrichment classes each nine weeks.

While enrichment classes are going on, the other teachers work with students they have pulled for that day. Students who are having trouble can also ask to be pulled, and Thomas said that is encouraged.

Where it student is supposed to be on a given day and who has been pulled is monitored by the ib4e computer program, developed at Louisiana Tech. Teachers also track how many times a student has been pulled and why, documentation that is shared with a parent when he or she comes in for a conference.

Everyone has a job during ib4e, Thomas said. Teachers are ei-ther leading an enrichment class or working on interventions, while she and the other school administrators walk the halls, checking to see what is going on in each classroom and how many students have been pulled.

Teachers have observed, Thomas said, that students are working harder in the classroom so they don’t have to get pulled for intervention during ib4e.

“They want to get to go to their enrichment class, especially when the teachers are doing such an awesome job with the enrichment classes,” she said.

The teachers are assigned to lead an enrichment class they have a passion for, Thomas said. When a teacher loves what he or she is doing, the students will tend to feel the same way about the topic, Thomas said.

Thomas noted that the program isn’t beneficial only to students who are struggling. It is also a time when the students who excel can be challenged. If a student has scored mastery on the LEAP test, for example, they can work toward the next level, she said.

“We want to get them to advanced, so we want these kids to be challenged too,” she said. “It’s a time we can challenge our students that are overachievers and try to help them also. It’s not just for failing students.”

Some teachers, Thomas said, devote one day a week to pulling advanced students.

The number of failing students has decreased since the program was put in place, Thomas said. During the first semester of the 2011-12 school year, 97 students had failing grades. That number dropped to 64 during the first semester of this year, she said. She said she would like to see the number of failures fall even more.

“We are a small school, so we’ve got to decrease that number. But it is helping,” she said.

The other schools have seen success with the program as well. When Thomas gave a presentation on ib4e during the school board’s committee meeting Monday, Fairburn said Mt. Hermon School, for instance, had 66 failures the first semester of last year and nine during the first semester of this year.

Fairburn said he is not satisfied with the enrichment classes at some of the schools, and that is something that will be improved for next year. The mission of ib4e, though, is stated right in the name of the program, Fairburn said.

“Interventions before enrichment. That’s the important thing, to help those students get to where they need to be,” he said.