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Our Latest Rock Star: Ernest Righetti High School

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 -- Scott Sterling

Ernest Righetti High School in Santa Maria, California, serves a swelling majority-minority population, many of whom are transient students from the migrant agricultural economy or the nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base. To better meet the needs of this unique student body, Righetti High School offers multiple credit recovery options that range from the flexible On-Track Credit Recovery (OTCR) program to the elective-replacing Intervention Through Technology (ITT).

This level of customization would not be possible without the flexibility of Plato Courseware. The school’s graduation rate now outpaces the district average by almost 10 points. The OTCR program on its own features a graduation rate of 98 percent.

Righetti High School Rock Star School Ceremony

Righetti High School’s intervention lab specialist Cindy Merlo helps to shed light on how the school has leveraged Plato Courseware and discusses some of the strategies it has used to attain its considerable success.

How do the credit recovery programs work?

Ms. Merlo: The OTCR computer labs are open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day. Students come and go at all times but mostly at lunch or after school. ITT is for students who need to recover three or more courses. We needed a more structured atmosphere for them, so instead of an elective slot, they go into one of the business labs and work on their Plato coursework. We also use Edmentum Test Packs to help prepare students for the state assessments, especially those who need to pass in order to graduate.

What story sticks out of your success with Plato Courseware?

Ms. Merlo: There was a young man who was cutting school and failing all his classes and had run away the week before. He was living part time with his mom and part time with [his] dad. The guidance tech asked if I could take him as my TA for one period so he could work on his OTCR courses. He was behind about 65 units. I agreed, and he became one of "my kids." For the next three and a half years, he was scheduled to be with me every day and worked hard at completing all the courses he had failed, all while continuing to pass his current courses. At his graduation party with his family, he had taken all the OTCR report cards he had and wrapped them up as a gift to him mom. She was overwhelmed.        

What’s next for you and the school?

Ms. Merlo: Because of a boundary change, our enrollment is about to expand from 2,100 to nearly 2,500 students. To house those students, a new three-story, state-of-the-art building is being proposed, filled with technology. I don’t think we’d be prepared to take those students on, or utilize that building effectively, without our success with Plato Courseware.

For more on how Righetti High School laid the groundwork for continued success with Plato Courseware and Edmentum Test Packs, check out the complete story here.