Eighth graders at Cloudland High get one step ahead

By Lesley Jenkins
Star Staff

Call it getting a head start or a step ahead of the eighth grade. Whatever it is called, 13 students are now one class ahead entering high school. This might not sound extensive, but one less math class in the future is always a plus.
   Cloudland High School piloted a program allowing 13 eighth graders to take a ninth grade Algebra 1 class. This is the first time the Carter County School System has allowed students to take the class.
   Students were selected based on their previous TCAP scores in seventh grade and given the option to take the class. Of these 13 students, all of them passed the Algebra 1 Gateway exam with an average score of 44, according to their teacher Lance Jarrett.
   Jarrett said, "This group of students rose to the challenge and 13 of them were allowed to take the course. Any score over 42 on this exam is considered to be advanced. Three of the students scored over 50 and one scored 54, the highest in the school, out of 66 Algebra students."
   The current students are Shelley Winters, Jaime Farmer, Carrie Hopson, Jordan Woodby, J.D. Morgan, Cody Burleson, Bruce Hicks, Rebekah Tolley, Mary Beth Whitehead, Elizabeth Whitehead, Jordan Hughes, Brandon Winchester, Aaron Guyn.
   "It took them about 9 weeks to catch on, but once they did, they did just fine," he said.
   Completing this class before officially starting high school gives the students an advantage because they are now one step ahead and will not have to take two math classes, such as Algebra 1 and Geometry during one semester.
   Jarrett also described the 13 extra students as being "no trouble at all" and also "students who are motivated and want to do the work."
   Three other schools in the county school system will implement the program next fall for eighth grade students. Happy Valley Middle, Central Elementary, and Hampton Elementary schools will provide the extra class to qualified students.
   In order to do this, each teacher has to be certified to teach Algebra 1. Luckily, each school already has a teacher in place to begin the next school year without having to hire another teacher.
   The results from the recent TCAP tests are not back yet, and qualifying students will be determined this summer. Guidance Counselors will meet with the student and parents to discuss the child's educational future and whether he/she wants to pursue a technical, dual, or college bound educational path.