Award-winning program going into Spring, Lancaster districts

(May 14, 2014) – A Texas Workforce Commission grant is bringing the Star Academy program for dropout prevention and acceleration to school districts in Spring and Lancaster for the 2014-15 school year. The program’s primary goal is to help overage and at-risk students reconnect with education and eventually earn a high school diploma.

The Star Academy program in Spring ISD will be implemented at Westfield High School. In Lancaster ISD, the program will be set up at Lancaster High School.

Based on research of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the combination of courses in the accelerated program at both locations will include Algebra 1A, Algebra 1B, integrated physics and chemistry, biology, reading, English, and world history. In addition, each district will provide elective courses to round out students’ schedules.

The Star Academy program is effective at reengaging students through a rigorous progression of instruction that incorporates hands-on learning, individualized instruction, collaborative learning, team-based instruction, and real-world career connections.

“I have seen the transformational power of the Pitsco instructional model and its effect on student engagement,” said Lancaster ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael McFarland. “A lack of engagement can cause students to fall behind or drop out, and this academy will help us ensure that our at-risk students graduate with a high school diploma and are reengaged.”

Students in the Star Academy program achieve academic success, develop leadership and communication skills, and ultimately experience a positive change in attitude toward themselves and their future. The expected outcomes of participating in the program are accelerating two grade levels (eighth and ninth grades) in one school year and improving attendance habits and behavior.

Financial benefits are realized when students graduate instead of dropping out of school. On average, a dropout earns $7,852 less and pays $3,666 less in income-related taxes than a graduate each year.

Learn more about the Star Academy Program at

About the Author:

Andrea Jones

Andrea Jones is a technology specialist in Virginia. A former French teacher, she currently supports technology integration in a middle school.