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ROWLAND — The Public Schools of Robeson County has implemented programs for students to thrive in non-traditional school settings through the Learning Acceleration Program and Robeson Alternative School.

The programs come as school districts across the country are trying new approaches to keep students in school and increase graduation rates. While many students flourish in the traditional school setting, the setting is not for all students.

To address this issue, PSRC has created the Learning Acceleration Program (LAP) and Robeson Alternative School (RAS) program for students in need of a non-traditional educational setting. LAP and RAS provide an additional learning pathway to address the learning gaps, self-esteem issues, and individualized goals of those who do not thrive in traditional classroom settings.

Jonathan Blue, Principal of LAP and RAS, said his vision for LAP and RAS is to continue to forge positive connections with students in order to build confidence and academic success.

“Our goal is to provide a strong foundation of academics in order for our students to transition successfully as adults in the 21st-century workforce and as responsible citizens,” Blue said. “We want our students to be self-directing and goal-oriented.”

In addition, to support the curriculum needs of LAP and RAS students, the Public Schools of Robeson County has implemented Apex Learning Courses. Apex Learning Courses is an online digital program that is standards-aligned, rigorous, interactive, and highly engaging. 

Apex Learning Courses helps to ensure the following:

●       Students will have a pathway to earn multiple high school credits in conjunction with their regular school schedule.

●       Students are college and career ready.

●       Teachers are knowledgeable about best practices for online learning.

Currently, there are 98 students enrolled in LAP/RAS.

LAP serves students in grades 9-12 and RAS serves students in grades 6-12.

Apex Learning Courses contains digital courses that are standards-aligned, rigorous, and highly engaging for students. Among courses offered are English, Math, Social Studies, Sciences, and Electives.

PSRC also has appointed two Apex Learning coaches/facilitators to assist with the implementation of Apex Learning in the LAP/RAS program.

Apex Learning Coaches/Facilitators Dr. Darlene Cummings and Dr. Jill Hathaway have seen an increase with the utilization of Apex Learning by LAP/RAS teachers and students during the first nine weeks of school. The high rate of utilization correlates with the success rate of students. In addition, Apex Learning Courses offers program accommodations and components to support student success.

“The LAP/RAS program was designed to give PSRC students an opportunity to be successful in a smaller setting with individualized instruction to meet the needs of students,” Blue said. “Apex Learning Courses has been a positive adjustment for both students and staff due to the rigorous curriculum that is aligned to district and state standards.”   

Mrs. Constance Campbell is a retired history/social studies teacher who currently works with students at LAP/RAS.

“Apex Learning Courses forces students to take ownership of the learning process. Students have a great opportunity to achieve success through hard work as they walk across the stage and graduate with their peers. We want students to be successful, graduate, and make their families proud,” Campbell said.

Two 12th grade students who plan to graduate in June 2023 were asked to make statements about their chosen learning pathway this year. 

“This program is helping me graduate on time. I got behind during my 10th grade year. LAP is helping me recover the classes I need to graduate this year. If you put your mind to it, you can do it,” D. Hunt said.

“I have new opportunities, and I have ownership of what I do,” Hunt added.

Student D. Locklear was also asked to describe his learning experience involving the use of Apex Learning at LAP/RAS.

“I struggled more in my regular high school because I had a lot of distractions.  I went to school every day to be with my friends. I did not take school seriously. Now, LAP/RAS has given me a new opportunity to graduate on time,” Locklear said. “ My mindset is different because I do not goof off anymore. Also, my teachers are very helpful, especially Mr. Roy Chavis, Math Teacher. I work hard every day.”

LAP and RAS are located in Rowland on the campus of the former Rowland Middle School. 

Additionally, all PSRC schools have implemented Apex Learning Tutorials in their  6-12 tutoring and enrichment programs.

Apex Learning Tutorials is a software solution utilized to ensure every student learns the skills and concepts needed to meet grade-level expectations. Middle school students utilize Apex Learning Tutorials for tutoring and enrichment classes, while high school students utilize the program as a content/unit recovery option.