Students will receive TAKS tutoring; day will end at 3:32 p.m.

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Alice High School administrators defended their Star Intervention Period, which begins Nov. 26, against questions by Alice ISD school board members who had received comments from the community on the new tutorial class.

The school held a Parent Meeting on Nov. 5 to inform community members about the change in schedule, and what activities will be accomplished during a new 25-minute Star period.

AHS principal Berta Longoria said much progress has been made so far this year, and that the school expects success.

"We will not be an AU (Academically Unacceptable) school next year," Longoria said.

The intervention teams consist of 22 faculty members who will guide students during the 25-minute periods in subjects such as TAKS Math, Science, Social Studies, English/Language Arts and ACT/ College Awareness and readiness.

With 1,500 students, Longoria said scheduling was a big task.

The teachers whose core subject areas are math and science will work with the students most in need in those areas of the TAKS test.

Students were grouped into classes based on their overall performance on the most recent TAKS exam.

During the Star period, students will spend Monday through Thursday reviewing TAKS scenarios and Fridays on other group-related activities.

There will also be members of the National Honor Society available at that time to work as peer mentors within the Star periods.

The majority of freshmen through juniors will focus on TAKS information in their Star periods, as well as seniors who have yet to pass the TAKS.

Juniors and seniors who have passed will use the Star period to focus on ACT/SAT preparation, college readiness and retention, and resum/ and interview skills.

The period will take place between second and third period from 9:42 to 10:07 a.m.

Because of the scheduling change, the time between classes was shortened from five to four minutes and lunch was shortened by five minutes.

Students will still have early release for lunch during their Channel One time.

The school day was also lengthened, with class beginning at 7:54 a.m. and ending at 3:32 p.m. No class periods were shortened to make room for the Star period, officials said.

Board member Ciro Zamora said the top 20 to 30 students had probably taken the ACT or SAT several times by now, and said he received comments as to why they should have to review during the Star period instead of catching up on homework.

Longoria said actually the opposite was true, and that the board would be surprised by the number of students who have yet to take their ACT or SAT test.

"So for juniors, it's a handful that have taken it," Zamora said. "When you look at a class of 300 or so juniors, only 20 percent of juniors have taken it," Longoria said. "Those who pass the ACT will work towards reaching a higher score, which is necessary for those competitive scholarships, which require the students to have higher scores."

For those students who have taken the test several times, and have scored in the 27, 28 or 29 range, Longoria said they will review those students on a case-by-case basis and they could serve as peer mentors.

"I guess they'll have to be forced to be peer mentors," Zamora said. Longoria shook her head.

She said the class was a great opportunity, not only for the students to be able to boost their ACT scores, but also gain valuable skills such as resum/ writing, interviewing and other skill sets that will help them with getting into college and beyond.