Our opinion: REACH an educational asset

Published 6:46 pm Friday, April 30, 2021

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Education is more than a blanket effort these days. As it has advanced, education methods have changed in order to match the student.

Austin’s REACH (Relationships, Education, Accountability, Character and Hardwork) Program is one of those methods implemented by Austin Public Schools to ensure that all students in the district get the education they deserve.

During Monday’s APS School Boards Study Session, REACH Counselor Angie Taylor and REACH teacher Monica Lillis presented to board members about the program and how it reaches students who may otherwise fall through the system’s cracks.

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It’s a wonderful opportunity for students who may be battling things outside of the classroom and who may need just a little bit of help.

Four of those students spoke to the board about the program, which is really more of a class, and how it changed things for the better. These students were up front about what brought them to REACH and spoke with an air of accountability that speaks to the success of the program.

But it doesn’t end there. The numbers speak for themselves.

Taylor spoke to the fear that there might be drop off this fall from effects felt from the COVID-19 pandemic, but those within the REACH program were pleasantly rewarded. In the fall semester of the 2020-21 school year, 87% of students passed or attempted classes, which is on track with previous semesters.

Other numbers that show the success taken from the 2019-20 school year show an increase in GPA from 1.8 to a 2.0. New students to the program earned 22.12% more attempted credits than in a previous year and 17 out of 22 seniors graduated.

There is success in these numbers and we remain impressed by APS’ dedication to ensure students going to school succeed. It’s a model and we wholeheartedly agree with Board President Kathy Green in addressing the students in attendance Monday.

“We’re really proud of you.”