Falls Career High School, instituted 14 years ago, serves grade nine-through-twelve students who don’t fit the traditional high school mold.
Marble Falls, TX
Mike Saenz, English teacher at Falls Career High School, says district students often drop out because “real life gets in the way.” Ninety percent of the Falls Career High School student population is considered at-risk. According to Saenz, most students choose to attend because they have a history of academic failure or because stress, fear, and anxiety prevent them from functioning well in a traditional school. The school also accommodates teenage parents, working students, and other struggling learners.
Seven years ago the high school instituted the use of Odysseyware, in part because of the broad range of electives it offered the small district, and also because of its impressive use of interactive multimedia to demonstrate concepts. The school uses Odysseyware in the areas of Social Studies, Government, Economics, U.S. History and a range of science courses.
Students can move more quickly through the curriculum and can do so to a great degree at their own time and pace, reports Saenz. Although students may be short credits or have failing grades or past poor attendance, they can now make up for those shortcomings through the program’s flexible options.
Odysseyware combined with face to face instruction and classroom activities such as presentations, round table editing groups, and drama class plays, allow students to proceed at their own pace and gain the social skills that will lead to success in college and the workplace. Because of its limited enrollment and technology-based curriculum, the high school can also provide students with a more personalized experience, such as timely email messaging with teachers.
The district’s summer school program uses Odysseyware to help high school students recover credits and get ahead on the curriculum. Odysseyware remains the central element of this growing program which currently serves more than 60 district high school students.
Our philosophy is that Odysseyware doesn’t teach, but teachers teach with the support of the program,” says Saenz. The versatility of Odysseyware digital curriculum allowed Saenz to create his own music history course from scratch. He says the program allows teachers to “meet kids where they are” and to adapt and personalize the curriculum for the eight to 10 students in each class.
FRESHMAN ACADEMY PROGRAM
The program, still in development, will allow 10 at-risk eighth grade students to receive a full year’s individual instruction that focuses on both academic and behavioral issues to prepare them for the mainstream classroom.
Saenz says that because of FCHS and Odysseyware, the district is graduating 20 percent more students than they would have without the program. Test scores reflect that impact. 100 percent of kids who attend FCHS have failed end of course exams and fallen far short on the state STAAR tests. Now nearly 100 percent of these students pass both exams. Their progress is at a much higher rate than at traditional high schools in the state.
DISTRICTMarble Falls Independent School District
LOCATIONMarble Falls, TX
- 4,000 students in MFISD
- 70% economically disadvantaged at FCHS
- 90% high school students at-risk at FCHS