JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) – Jackson-Madison County school officials hope a new program will help their students meet federal requirements and graduate on time from high school.

The Jackson Sun reports that they have collaborated with Ombudsman – a part of Educational Services of America – to create Bridge Academy, which is scheduled to open early next month.

Officials said there will be openings for 60 students from Jackson Central-Merry Academy of Medical Technology and Liberty Technology high schools.

Both schools have been working to increase graduation rates, but have been on the Tennessee Department of Education’s list for failing to meet the goal.
The federal No Child Left Behind law aims to have all high schools graduating just about all their students by 2014.

Deputy superintendent Doris Battle said the district is using federal Race to the Top money to fund Bridge Academy, which will cost roughly $5,650 per student.

Officials said the program will give students more individualized instruction.

“We’ve got to be proactive,” Battle said. “Due to No Child Left Behind and its benchmarks, we have to do something.”

Paula Reed, Educational Services of America vice president of business development, said the program offers students a chance to succeed outside of the traditional classroom setting.

“This is a partnership with the district,” Reed said in a telephone interview.

Four teachers and a director will be assigned to Bridge Academy. Reed said the teachers would have an intensive two-week training before the program begins and would participate in the district’s professional development days.

“Our success is the district’s success,” she said.

Battle said families of potential students may ask questions and tour the facility during the information day on Dec. 9.

“We’re optimistic that students and families will want to come,” she said.

Information from: The Jackson Sun