A total of 131 Union High School seniors who graduated in May completed the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) A+ scholarship program.
Bette Ruether, A+ coordinator, updated the school board on the program highlights from the 2013-14 school year Wednesday night.
The A+ program provides scholarship funds to eligible graduates who attend a participating public community college or vocational/technical school, or certain private two-year vocational/technical schools.
In the graduating class, 62 percent of students qualified for the program. Of the 160 students in the program, 33 did not fulfill all of the requirements.
The majority of students who did not qualify fell short on their grade point average, Ruether said.
Of those, a total of 101 graduates planned to use the financial assistance at a community college or career technical school. Many more are receiving financial aid from a four-year university or a private school for completing the A+ program, Ruether noted.
To complete the program, students must be a U.S. citizen and enter into a written agreement that requires the student to participate in the program at least three consecutive years before high school graduation.
Students also must maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, and have at least a 95 percent average attendance record for all four years of high school.
In addition, students participating in the program must complete 50 hours of unpaid tutoring, which can include 25 percent job shadowing, and maintain good citizenship.
The graduating class of seniors logged approximately 10,340.18 tutoring hours collectively during their high school years.
Tutors were placed in all Union R-XI buildings and Immaculate Conception. One student tutored at St. Gertrude Elementary.
During the 2013-14 school year, approximately 65 elementary teachers and 45 secondary teachers used the help of tutors in their classrooms.
No students took advantage of the job shadowing, Ruether noted, adding that it is a last resort because there is an abundance of opportunities for tutoring.
Participation in the program has remained fairly constant, with 66.8 percent of seniors, 57.6 percent of juniors, 65.7 percent of sophomores and 37.6 percent of freshmen enrolled in the program for the next school year.
A total of 508 of the 903 Union High School students have signed an A+ participation agreement. This accounts for 56.2 percent of the student body, compared to 54.4 percent in 2012-13.
The district has been providing busing for students to tutor for several years and Ruether said this has worked well for students.
“I’m thankful for the bus transportation,” she said. “In addition to added control and fewer students driving, many students do not have transportation and would not have the opportunity to tutor at the elementary schools if it wasn’t for the shuttle bus.”
Ruether said parents also appreciate that the district provides transportation.
The district now has an A+ webpage on the high school homepage. The A+ booklet, all forms and links are available online.
Changes to the Program
Beginning with the Class of 2015, all students must “have achieved a score of proficient or advanced on the official Algebra I end of course exam (EOC), or a higher level DESE approved end-of-course exam in the field of mathematics . . .”
The requirement was made by the Missouri Department of Higher Education.
If all other requirements are met except the EOC requirement, students may become eligible by achieving a qualifying score on the COMPASS exam or by earning an ACT math subscore of 17 in high school or postsecondary school.
At UHS, the students have four opportunities to achieve proficient or advanced on a Math EOC, including at the end of Algebra I, geometry or to retake the Algebra I EOC at the end of the first semester of Alegbra II, and at the end of Algebra II.
All other requirements remain the same as last year.
A total of 533 Missouri high schools have been designated as A+ schools by the state board of education since 1997. Of those, 13 were designated in 2014.
There are 67 eligible A+ community colleges and career technical schools, which can be found online at dhe.mo.gov.
Program goals include to increase the number of students participating in the program.
Ruether said its important to provide freshmen with information on the importance of keeping up their grade point average, because many of those who didn’t qualify as seniors “dug a hole” as freshmen.
Ruether said she plans to speak to Algebra I classes concerning the new math requirement and she will continually update the online page and booklet for students and parents.
According to the Missouri Lottery, the state Legislature appropriated $21,659,667 in lottery funds toward funding the A+ program, or 71.2 percent of the cost.
The lottery contributed 66 percent in 2013.