St. Clair High School has reported higher grades among the freshman class this year thanks to a new academic assignment program that was implemented this fall.

At the Sept. 14 school board meeting, Instructor Paul Codespoti discussed the progress so far of the new Intensive Care Unit for academics.

The ICU program was created to help freshmen complete and turn in assignments. St. Clair High School is part of an ICU database that keeps track of every missing assignment among students submitted by teachers, according to Codespoti.

When a student’s name is on the list, an automatic text message and two emails detailing the assignment are sent to their parents.

Teachers will inform students of the missing assignment and they have one day to get off the list. If students fail to do so, Codespoti said he takes them to the ICU room to finish their assignments.

“A lot of them have (the assignment) in their bag, they’ve done 50, 60 percent of it and (they) just didn’t turn it in,” he said.

Although the ICU database numbers change on a daily basis, as of Friday, Sept. 22, there have been 1,364 completed assignments among students in grades nine-12 and the number of missing assignments amounted to 856.

Approximately 61 percent of assignments have been completed and turned in, according to the ICU database. The average percent of missing assignments among the freshman class is 5.9 percent.

“We recently ran our grade reports for the freshmen and the data shows that we have significantly fewer failing grades at this point in the year as the same time last year,” Codespoti said Friday.

Codespoti said the program is not meant as a punishment, but as a way for students to receive extra help. He added that he has not had push back from students.

“They’ve gotten on board and they really love the idea that they actually get the extra help in the classroom,” he said. “I appreciate the fact that most of them know my name now. Most of them do not want me coming into their classroom.”

All staff members, coaches and administrators have access to the database and can monitor it on a daily basis.

Codespoti read a testimonial from Communication Arts Teacher Jennifer Moore that she sent via email.

“Except for the kids who have not shown up to school yet, each of my students still have an A. That may change after they turned in this essay, but I wanted you to know that I don’t give bonus points out of my classroom,” Codespoti read.

“At this point, I normally have a few failing and many with B’s and C’s. Also, the quality of the work that is being turned in is much higher than before.”

Codespoti said her comment “goes back to the effectiveness of what we’re trying to get done and I think it’s working on a lot of levels.

“I’ve been pretty pleased with the results and what’s going on,” he added.

The data collected will be helpful when planning new curriculums, giving out assignments, as well as with the transition of new teachers and how they setup their classrooms, he said.

“One of the things we’re talking about is helping our new teachers understand who our students are at St. Clair, how to help them the best way they possibly can,” Codespoti said.

Principal Jennifer Davis said when she was at a recent volleyball game, students went up to her for high-fives because they had completed their assignments and were off the list.

This was “great because it’s not a penalty, it’s a celebration,” she noted.

Next year, the program will be implemented among the sophomores, and then juniors the next year, and finally the seniors the year after that, according to Codespoti.

“The idea here is that this year’s freshmen will be the first class to have had ICU for all four years and by the time they graduate we will have implemented it to every student in the high school,” he said.