Waterloo schools academies try to curb dropout rate - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo schools academies try to curb dropout rate

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WATERLOO (KWWL) - A new program in Waterloo's high schools hopes to keep students in school.  The Performance-Based Diploma Academy, or PBDA, opened at East and West High Schools this fall.  The goal is to stop students from dropping out by letting them do coursework on their time.

Victoria Jaime's a 10th grader at Waterloo's East High School.  She got behind in classwork due to health problems.  That's why she's now in the PBDA where she can catch up at her own pace.

"I was like wow, this is really great because I get to do this and I understand it. If I don't want to do biology, I can do math and my math teacher's just next door. I can ask her a question if I want to," said Jaime.

The PBDA opened this fall.  Four classrooms have about 20 computers each where students in 10th though 12th grades can do coursework in English, social studies, math and science.  Students also meet with counselors and learn about possible careers.

"The goal is to get them to graduate so that's what we want to do. We want to get them through any barriers they have. Attendance barriers, learning barriers, Just to get them back so they can graduate with their core group," said East High PBDA coordinator Al Lampman.

131 students are in the program at East.  150 are at West.  Students still take electives in traditional classrooms but most of their school days are spent here.

"They learn time management this way, too. They know if they don't do it, it doesn't get done. They don't have to keep up with a classroom teacher, they just have to be self-motivated to want to get through it," said Lampman.

For Anthony Hayes, it means a second chance to graduate on time.

"Pretty much falling behind in classes, absences from school but this program helped me get on track so I'll graduate this school year where I was supposed to," said Hayes.

The PBDA programs are so popular, there's already a waiting list.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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