Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Memphis Athletic Ministries - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Memphis Athletic Ministries

By Joe Birch - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Eighteen-year-old Demario Nelson uses a Memphis City Schools online program to help catch up on his class work.

Demario, who is considered a "highly mobile student," has changed schools seven times, and each time he's fallen behind on his work.
  
"Every time I transferred to another school, they was on another type of subject and I'm like man, my teacher didn't teach me nothing about this," he said.

Demario comes to Memphis Athletic Ministries for the after-school online catch-up. The ministry tracks kids on the move like Demario and plugs them into one of its six locations citywide once settled in a new neighborhood.
   
"I like to look at it as we're an extension of the Memphis City School System," said the organization's Kelvin Bowen.

But with as many as 34,000 Memphis students changing schools, Dr. Kriner Cash says he wants to align the curriculum district-wide so highly mobile students can pick up their studies right where they left off!
 
"So that when you do move, they'll fit, and when they move grade to grade, they'll come right into the same curriculum slot they just left," Cash said. "Historically, that's not been the case in Memphis."

In fact, Cash says lesson plans differ wildly from school to school, teacher to teacher. Cash says the school board is ready to standardize the curriculum and he'll appeal to teachers to make it happen rapidly:

"That theory is based on a consistent set of standards, a consistent curriculum, a consistent set of assessments, targeted professional development at each school, so they can do what they need to do for that population of learners, the corrective action or intervention for each child," Cash said.

If Dr. Cash's plan works, students like Demario, who is 18 and in the 10th grade, won't fall so far behind.  To his everlasting credit, Demario has persevered and not dropped out. The online catch-up should enable him to graduate from high school next year.

Dr. Cash estimates students fall behind in school work by six months each time they transfer.  He says aligning the curriculum will ultimately improve student achievement levels.

Given the foreclosure crisis and the sour state of the U-S economy, the superintendent expects more students transferring in the near future.

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