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Check out WAY

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The Watercooler, Posted by Ingrid Jacques on Fri, Jun 3, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Check out WAY

I recently found out about a pretty interesting education organization in Michigan, which I assume has not been on most people's radar. The WAY (which stands for Widening Advancement for Youth) Program is a fresh approach to helping students who've struggled in high school to attain their diploma. The non-profit program, based in Belleville, is modeled after a similar program in the United Kingdom: Notschool.net.

The program is the first like it in the U.S. and for the past two years, Michigan's been the only state with the non-profit. But WAY is currently starting up a new branch in Florida. Glen Taylor, an executive director of WAY, says the program works with traditional public high school students in 60 districts around Michigan, and is seeing results. With a 90 percent retention rate, WAY brings highly qualified teachers ("mentors") and students ("researchers") together in a unique environment, which gives a lot of autonomy to the students. There is a 6-1 mentor/researcher ratio, so students get plenty of attention in their work.

Students still must meet state standards and pass standardized tests, but they can reach these same benchmarks by heading down a path that works for them; much of the learning is done online, with close guidance and feedback from teachers in the program. Once students complete enough credits through the program, they are eligible for a diploma from their high school. As Taylor says, this program exemplifies the innovation and flexibility Gov. Snyder has backed in education. It's worth checking out.