October 9, 2008

Professors From Russia Tour Montgomery County Schools

By Anna L. Mallory [email protected] 381-8627

Two professors from Russia are visiting schools in Montgomery County this week to find out how local educators work with students, and others, with disabilities.

Elena Nikolayevna Pryakhina and Marina Alekseyevna Shumskikh, both teachers at the Moscow City University of Psychology and Education, observed classes at Blacksburg High, Blacksburg Middle and Kipps Elementary schools Tuesday. The pair wants to take back proof that they "are on the right track" in implementing programs that help include students with special needs in the classroom.

Administrators at Radford University's School of Education invited the pair, who also spent Monday visiting programs for college students with disabilities offered at both Radford and Virginia Tech.

The pair said they were surprised at how the universities reach out to K-12 schools, as well as focus on their own students.

Radford chose to send the professors to schools in Montgomery County because it was convenient and because several Radford education interns were working in the county's schools, said Debbie Bays, an associate professor in the School of Education.

The pair visited Radford University on Monday to examine its on- campus transition program and the Training and Technical Assistance Center. The transition program works with students who have disabilities such as Down syndrome and gives them a chance to have mentors or get jobs on campus.

When the professors return to Moscow, they will write about their experiences here, the second U.S. school system they explored, and form a committee to discuss changes to their programs.

State plans to release on-time graduation rate

The Virginia Board of Education plans to release a database of school divisions' "on-time graduation" rates for the state's high schools today.

The state calculates the rate by dividing the number of students who earned a diploma in 2008 by the number of students who entered the ninth grade for the first time in 2004-05, as well as the number of students who transferred in or out of the school.

The National Governor's Association, a consortium of state leaders, endorses the formula, as it is seen as the first true look at the number of students who graduate from Virginia high schools on time, department spokesman Charles Pyle told reporters Monday.

The Virginia Board of Education approved the formula in 2006 after state lawmakers said they needed a new calculation.

Other graduation rates released have not tracked the same group of students throughout their time in school.

Anna L. Mallory covers events and issues affecting Montgomery County schools and beyond. If you have information you'd like featured, e-mail [email protected] You also can visit Chalk Dust, the New River Valley's education news source, at blogs.roanoke.com/chalkdust.

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