When students struggle in high school classrooms, the Hernando County School District offers them help through the Technology Oriented Performance Program.
The one-year version of the voluntary program can be found at the STAR Center. Two-year options are offered at Hernando and Central high schools. TOPP is also is found at the adult education program at Nature Coast Technical High School.
At STAR, students must be at least 17 years old. They also must be seniors, and they need to pass a proficiency test.
There are 19 students in STAR's program. "And they all will potentially graduate in 2009," said Walter Russ, the school's program director.
Students come, he explained, because they lack credits due to attendance problems or achievement difficulties.
In TOPP, the students use the Pace Learning System. "They cover all the subject areas," Russ said. Students work at paces comfortable to them, and a teacher is available for assistance and as a monitor.
"They're here for a reason and that's to obtain their high school diplomas," Russ said. "This is the second year of this program. We put about 25 people through this program last year."
Students must meet behavior and attendance standards to remain in the program. They must also pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and the General Educational Development test to graduate.
"Right now we've had great success with it," Russ said. TOPP helps students "recoup what they've lost. We're offering them an exit. We're getting students back on track."