By Johnny Jackson
School officials are hopeful that the use of its revamped Early Intervention Program will yield long-term, positive results in the classroom.
The Henry County School System implemented the revised program, also known as EIP, with the start of the school year in August, said Dutchtown Elementary School Principal Winnie Johnson.
EIP, according to the Georgia Department of Education, is a program designed to serve students at risk of not reaching, or maintaining, their academic grade level.
The program provides students with additional instructional resources intended to help them increase their academic performance. Johnson said many schools used a single EIP instructor to fulfill those goals in the past, in a set-up in which teachers served students through either, a "pull-out" model, or "augmented" model of classroom instruction.
In the pull-out model, eligible students were taken out of class to receive additional instruction in math or reading from their EIP teacher, during a segment of the school day.
The augmented model, however, incorporated the EIP teacher into the regular classroom setting, where they would give support to eligible EIP students.
Johnson believes the state's new, "reduced class" model may prove more beneficial for EIP students. She said the model was introduced last fall in kindergarten, first, and second grades, and calls for each grade level to have one or more classes designated as EIP classes.
"Schools have seen good results with the use of this model in helping all of the students within the ... classes to attain, and maintain, grade-level status," said Raymond Bryant, Henry's coordinator of leadership services.
Bryant said the state provides local school systems four different models to serve students who are identified as needing EIP services, including: the pull-out, the augmented, the reduced class, and the self-contained model.
He said local school systems are able to determine which of the models are best for their students. "The benefit of the reduced class model is that each class is based on a sliding scale that caps the class size to a range of 12 to 17 students, depending on the grade level," Bryant said. "Also, the students are with their teacher all day and receive grade-level instruction throughout the day, [and] more opportunities for one-on-one and small group instruction."
Added Johnson: "With this model, eligible students are placed in their grade-level class alongside a heterogeneous group of students in the same grade, utilizing a state formula that keeps the class smaller. The program," she continued, "has been very successful in terms of students being served in a smaller-class environment."
Johnson said it is too early to tell the full impact of the new model on standardize scores overall, "but a first glance seems to indicate that students served in this model, not only enjoyed solid CRCT [Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests] scores, but they also were able to receive a more individualized instructional program across the board."
She noted that the reduced-class-size model will also help generate increased state funding. Henry County School System officials reported earlier this spring that the school system could receive about $2.9 million more in state-allotted funding because of the new model.
"The new EIP model created a significant change in our FTE [Full-time Enrollment] funding," said Jeff Allie, in an earlier interview. "Under the new model, we receive EIP funding for all students in a classroom with a student receiving EIP services," Allie said. "Our overall FTE count for elementary students decreased by 68 students. However, the implementation of the new EIP model increased our elementary funding by $2.9 million [from the state]."
Johnson said the school system has plans to implement the reduced-class-size model for EIP this coming school year for grades three, four, and five, depending on each school's preference.