The number of Union High School graduates taking advantage of Missouri’s A+ scholarship program was up for the previous academic year, but the school district’s A+ program administrator said participation in the program among current students has dropped.
Bette Ruether, the R-XI district’s A+ coordinator, said overall participation in the program was down.
Out of 908 students at the high school, 440 were participating in the program and had signed participation agreements.
Those 440 students represent 48.5 percent of the total high school student body, down from 54.3 percent for the 2010-11 school year, Ruether said.
For the most recent school year, 111 of the 162 ranked UHS graduates completed the requirements for A+ eligibility, or about 68.5 percent.
That’s up from the 63.4 percent of ranked graduates, 116 out of 183, who met A+ requirements last year.
The percentage of qualifying graduates represents an all-time high at the school, which has seen steady increases for each year with the exception of 2010 to 2011 since the program began a decade ago.
The Missouri Department of Higher Education reported that 103 Union graduates received $193,270 in A+ scholarship funds for the 2010-2011 academic year. For the prior school year, 90 former students received $148,756 in scholarships.
Funding for the scholarships came primarily from the Missouri Lottery, with the rest from the state’s general revenue fund.
Last year, 97 percent of A+ scholarship funding came from the lottery. This year that figure dropped to 74 percent.
To earn their scholarship funding, students have to participate in tutoring of elementary and secondary students.
Graduating UHS seniors in the program logged close to 8,000 tutoring hours during their four years at the high school, Ruether said, while 35 underclassmen have already completed the 50 hours of tutoring needed to meet A+ requirements.
District officials help too, Ruether said.
“I want to thank principals, secretaries, teachers, bus drivers and everyone who works with these kids to make this possible,” she said.
The district buses students to various buildings for tutoring services, Ruether noted.
Students must meet citizenship, attendance and grade point average requirements to qualify for A+ scholarships too.
The GPA requirement for A+ students is a 2.5 or higher.
Students must attend class 95 percent of the time and have no unlawful drug or alcohol issues.
Ruether said the district needs to revise its citizenship policy, however.
She said students beginning the program next year will have to meet even stricter requirements to qualify for A+ scholarships including an “advanced” or “proficient” score in end of course exams for the first year of algebra.
Those not meeting that requirement can still receive A+ funding, but must first complete a 12-credit hour semester at a community college at their own expense and earn a 2.5 or higher grade point average.