Power of I improves grades

CALERA &8212; Calera High administrators plan to install a new academic policy this fall that has already dramatically improved grades at the city&8217;s middle school.

Called &8220;The Power of I,&8221; the policy gives students an &8220;I&8221; for incomplete when they do not hand in assignments on time instead of a zero.

The program achieved a 35 percent reduction in the middle school&8217;s overall failure rate &8212; numbers that made Principal Ken Mobley eager to start &8220;The Power of I&8221; at Calera High as well.

&8220;It&8217;s lowering the failure rate without watering down the curriculum,&8221; said Vice Principal Brent Copes.

Instead of failing, students who receive an incomplete must attend study hall after school where they must finish their work before participating in extracurricular activities like choir or football.

Copes said so far the effectiveness of the &8220;I&8221; program has been two-fold &8212; students are given more incentive to finish assignments, and it has created more interactivity between parents, students and teachers.

&8220;An &8216;F,&8217; parents understand,&8221; Copes said, &8220;but with an &8216;I,&8217; we&8217;re hoping that they will ask a few more questions.&8221;

&8220;I think it&8217;s a great opportunity for the kids,&8221; parent Michelle Hyde said. Her son, Jeremy, is an eighth-grader at Calera Middle, where he also plays basketball and baseball.

The younger Hyde said the program was &8220;pretty cool, because it helped me out, it gave me time to finish my work.&8221;

Copes said the old system of giving students a zero for missing assignments, allowed students who might otherwise might excel to become comfortable with taking an &8220;F.&8221;

Toni Eubank, a member of the Southern Regional Educational Board, which helped implement the program, said the philosophy of &8220;The Power of I&8221; also involves teachers re-examining their assignments to match the state&8217;s education curriculum.

&8220;We can&8217;t afford to let them choose not to do their work,&8221; Eubank said