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School’s out for summer, but some Corvallis High School students are spending the first two weeks of their break back in the classroom.

Wednesday marked the debut of the CHS Math Academy. The three-day program was created to help students earn credits they will need so they can pass algebra classes and keep up with their schoolwork.

Friday morning, about 12 students sat in Jennifer Kollath’s classroom, working to solve math problems that might puzzle some parents, such as graphing systems of inequalities and matrices. The sessions typically last from 9 a.m. to noon.

Sophomore Abbi Mcclellan has been trying to master five standards, including distributive properties and permutations and combinations. If she’s successful, she would earn the credits needed to pass Algebra 1A and move on to Algebra 1B in the fall.

Mcclellan said she struggles with math, so being able to work on her math skills in a setting other than a regular classroom was helpful.

“I like this program because it’s smaller,” Mcclellan said. “So there’s more one-on-one time with the teacher. It’s a lot more relaxed than the class was during the school year.”

Kollath has taught at CHS for five years and is leading the Math Academy, which is aimed at helping students earn credit for proficiency.

This model provides students with the opportunity to earn graduation credits through Oregon’s standards-based system by demonstrating they know the material. Students can demonstrate proficiency through classroom work and by documenting learning experiences outside of school.

Kollath said that algebra classes at Corvallis High School fall within the state’s standards-based system, and that she likes the credit for proficiency model because students must demonstrate a strong understand of all areas.

For example, she said, students can’t make up for not knowing one area by knowing two other areas well.

Kollath said it hasn’t taken long for her to see the benefits of the academy — seven students completed their required work Friday.

“I think it helps because they are just focusing on math,” Kollath said. “Instead of a bunch of things like during the school year, they are focusing on one thing.”

And the CHS Math Academy isn’t just for students who struggle at math or those who need to catch up on credits. Senior Justin Wambach simply needed time to finish some Algebra 2 tests.

“It’s not like I failed a class or anything like that,” Wambach said. “I am actually pretty fair at math. I just missed some school this year and didn’t have time before the end of the year to finish some tests.”

Kollath said she hopes that the CHS Math Academy will become an annual program because it can help students from falling behind and being at risk of not graduating.

“The most important is that we keep the students on track and caught up,” Kollath said. “Having to wait and retake classes can really set them back. This allows them to earn those credits sooner and move on.”

A second session of the academy is scheduled from June 25-29 to provide students more time and to allow new students to participate in the program.

Raju Woodward can be contacted at 758-9526 or raju.woodward@lee.net.

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