Beaumont ISD Rejuvenates Pathways Alternative Learning Program


Another Beaumont ISD campus is getting a makeover.

Pathways Alternative Learning Center will be the fourth campus in the district to undergo a curriculum overhaul in the past school year following Martin and Homer Drive Elementary Schools and the Paul Brown Learning Center.

Pathways serves as an “alternative disciplinary education program,” reserved for students who are removed from their regular classes for mandatory or discretionary disciplinary reasons, according to the district’s website.

The overhaul of the campus curriculum was necessitated by unsatisfactory results, BISD Superintendent Shannon Allen said, particularly with respect to recidivism rates for disciplinary issues.

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“We have worked diligently for months to redesign the Pathways program,” Allen said at the district’s regular board meeting in May. “Pathways is another model that we’ve put a lot of time and attention into to really change what is and is actually happening on campus.”

Since its inception in the late 1990s, Pathways has operated more or less the same way, senior director of student support services Randall Maxwell said during a presentation at the board meeting.

Typically, students who have ongoing discipline issues are placed at Pathways, away from their home campus, for a limited amount of time, depending on the severity of their actions, before being returned to their home campus.

Under the overhaul, students’ transition to their home campus will depend on improving their behavioral and academic performance, as opposed to its current baseline, where students return to their home campus after the number of days assigned to them, regardless of any improvement. .

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“We need to remember that students who return to our campuses often fulfill their time commitments,” Maxwell said. “The revamp will focus on an upgrade system that will allow students to progress through a system with achievements rather than looking at attendance, discipline, and time.”

Maxwell said that due to the different structure of Pathways compared to a traditional school campus, once students return to their home campus, they experience academic and/or behavioral challenges, which often require them to meet directly at Pathways.

“The redesign will allow students to essentially have a transition person assigned to monitor their return – a more case-managed approach,” he said.

This means that students who are placed in Pathways will likely stay there longer, requiring more space.

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A key element of the redesign is the planned expansion of Pathways’ current facilities.

Currently, Pathways – located in the former Ogden Elementary School – has 160 spaces.

Maxwell and his team recommend doubling that number to 330.

“In order for us to go from 160 places to 330 places, we have to rejuvenate the facility,” he said.

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The rejuvenation comes in the form of the opening of a previously closed wing of the school on the south side of campus, which will be reserved for middle school students while high school students will remain in the north wing of campus.

The wing will also be fitted with a brand new HVAC system.

The expansion of the campus and its capacity will also require staff increases.

“(Additional staffing) is critical — that we have qualified staff but also, the state requires us to have a 15:1 (students to teacher) ratio,” Maxwell said. “This expansion will allow for an initial placement of students (for) between 30 and 90 days. behavioral goals (are) achieved.”

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BISD’s at-risk coordinator Jacqueline Shirey said the team looked at the redesign through the lens of an alternative learning environment as opposed to a traditional school, knowing some approaches wouldn’t work at Pathways as they did. would in a typical school environment.

“We can’t compare apples to oranges and say we’re going to focus on areas of improvement that you would in a traditional model when we know our school and our systems at Pathways are the learning environment. alternative,” she said.

Shirey said alternative high schools generally have a small but high percentage of students.

“In alternative education, we typically look at disparity, disproportionality with students from economically disadvantaged households, students of color, and especially males,” she said. “We know that this group of students is particularly at risk of dropping out and we know that if we spend time in our school model, we can become more successful, more effective in pushing them to be more successful.”

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Progress will be measured by reduced recidivism rates, increased Pathways attendance and improved student performance once they return to their home campuses, Shirey said.

“(Students will) receive an initial placement, but we will develop entry goals that guide the length of their placement and the progression of support they receive,” she said. “We’re going to use progress markers throughout, we’re going to give students opportunities to elevate themselves and as they perform and they reach those goals, we want to pass them on to have more ‘leadership or choice opportunities because we also know that once they return to their home campus, they have to make choices.

Staff and support team members as well as the students themselves will need to reflect on student progress to see if they are ready to return to their home campus.

“We know that if we can keep them around longer, that benefits a lot of different components, but we have to give them the best while they’re there to really influence change,” Shirey said.

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While staff won’t excuse bad behavior, Shirey said the program will take a trauma-informed approach when determining why students act.

“When we use our trauma-informed approach, we look for explanations,” she said. “We ask why – what is the reason behind the behavior? How do we respond to need, how do we adjust our approach? And there is absolutely a place in education to balance empathy and balance a norm and that’ is what we need to do with our young people most at risk and especially those of Passport.

By providing students with ongoing support and interventions, particularly around mental and behavioral health, students will receive holistic support, preparing them for a better chance of success, Shirey said.

But students aren’t the only ones seeing a difference in the program after its revamp. Staff members will also have access to more resources such as training.

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“We understand that (staff will) face a variety of new challenges and we need to give them the appropriate and useful tools they need to do their jobs and how to use them well,” said BISD’s Executive Director, Curriculum and Instruction. Jenny Angelo. “We’re going to be doing ongoing education, monitoring them through different campus visits, coaching opportunities, and really focusing on the unique needs of our Pathways students and the standards we have for their success.”

Additionally, Pathways staff are eligible for an additional compensation allowance of $5,000.

Angelo said the school is also partnering with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University, which will provide Pathways teachers with intensive training in trust-based relationship intervention.

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“Among our staff we have a variety of roles and we want to identify three in particular: our parent-school liaison will focus on attendance and outreach as well as family engagement, helping with orientation and working with our parents in a variety of workshops; our counselor will have weekly time scheduled to work with incoming students in one-on-one sessions, which we believe is very important, as well as talking to them about what’s going on. it comes to the future when you’re done at Pathways, what post-secondary skills and opportunities they may have,” Angelo said. “Currently we have a behavioral interventionist in West Brook and one in (Beaumont United) and they need additional support to work with these students. We have revamped a climate support specialist position on each of these campuses to work with them and they will help with the transition to regular campus and acclimate students to behaving appropriately on that campus but also having someone who they can turn to when they feel something is about to happen or to help themselves with self-regulation.

Shirey said Pathways students will rise and fall in the level of expectations set for them and that the program must be academically rigorous and not just discipline-focused.

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Maxwell said the program will be continuously monitored to ensure it is working properly. Redesign work has been underway for months and over the summer staff will begin new training modules to prepare for the enhanced curriculum.

“The redesign will further relieve our main campuses of disruptive students with the expansion,” he said. “By law, students are required…and deserve a place to be educated. This overhaul will keep some of our hardest-to-teach students in the classrooms rather than on the streets.”

Implementation of the redesign will occur under new leadership with West Brook High School Vice-Principal Joseph Bowser, Jr. taking over as Pathways Principal’s Chair for the 2022-2023 school year.

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