In an effort to improve options for those severely at-risk or who have completely dropped out of high school, the Helena School District began an exciting new initiative in the spring of 2009. Bringing together school district personnel, college personnel and community members to identify the needs of the community was the first step in creating a new pathway, called Access to Success. This pathway serves as a model dropout recovery/reengagement program in the Helena community.
Access to Success is a high school diploma completion program. All coursework is provided in an adult learning environment. The program is housed on the Helena College campus. Eligibility is limited to those who are at least 16, who meet minimum reading levels, and who are not currently enrolled in school and do not have a high school diploma. Those not meeting eligibility requirements will be referred to other skill building programs within the district (ABE).
In Access to Success, students may have the opportunity to pursue their education, while also given the chance to obtain credits which count as dual credit towards their high school diploma and professional certificate or degree. For students meeting the entry level course placement requirements, the option for dual credit will be provided at no cost to the student. The program is funded through a combination of local adult education monies and in-kind match which includes free tuition and classroom and office space provided by the two year college.
Students begin Access to Success as part of a small cohort group. Maintaining small class sizes, is essential to creating a supportive environment. All students begin by taking a course titled ‘Strategies for Success’ while concurrently taking courses required for their high school diploma or career path. Each student will be supported through individual case management. Students also have access to all the support services provided on campus.
This is an exciting program that we feel has great potential. It is our hope that this opportunity will open new doors for those in need within our community.
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