New High School Alternative Offers Tri-Cities Kids An Option to Standard Learning - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New High School Alternative Offers Tri-Cities Kids An Option to Standard Learning

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Kennewick -- As the high school drop out rate increases, educators locally and nationally are looking for answers.  They want to appeal to young people, enhance the natural desire to learn, and keep kids from drifting out of school and into unsuccessful lives.

The drop-out rate in Kennewick is 25 percent. That number echoes statistics nationwide.  Now, educators in the city are putting in place something they are calling Phoenix High School.  It offers two different ways for teenagers to learn, ways that are far from the standard.

Next year, kids who've signed up for Phoenix High School will find themselves involved in specialized projects designed to help them learn.  Instead of listening to teachers in front of the class, kids will be shown the state standards they'll need to meet in order to graduate, and will then be offered a chance to help design their own curriculum.  Teachers will work closely with their students in order to ensure success.  Tracy Money, the director of Phoenix High School, said the project-based teaching will begin in the fall. 

Phoenix High School will also offer an at home learning program.  Although it is similar to already existing virtual high schools in the state, it differs in that it provides local advisors, who will remain in constant contact with students as they learn on-line.

Tracy Money explained the concept this way: 

"It can't just happen between a kid and his computer. You need a person there to guide the learning, to get them excited, to fill in the gaps when they have questions, and need direct instruction. So having a local advisor will really support that."

Money will talk with parents and students who are interested in Phoenix High School Tuesday night at Southridge High School.  It is there that Phoenix High School will be based initially, but there are plans to locate the alternative learning program in a separate building once it gets off the ground.

Another informational meeting is planned for early July, but Money urges interested families to reach her quickly.  Her number at Southridge High School is 222-6039.