KIMBERLY — Nearly 1-in-4 Kimberly High School freshmen finish the school year with a “D” or “F” grade in a class.

That statistic is prompting the school to create a new required class: freshman transitions. Kimberly’s school board took action March 15 and the change will go into effect this fall with the incoming freshman class.

The class is designed to set students up for success by teaching them basic skill like how to study, take notes and use reference materials.

School officials say it’s valuable for students to have coaching as they adapt to high school life. Plus, if a student does poorly in a class and has to take it again, they’re more likely to fall behind and struggle to graduate on time.

“Research indicates if (students) make at least one positive connection with an adult, their success increases tremendously,” Kimberly School District superintendent Luke Schroeder said.

Freshmen will take the class for an entire school year. Students haven’t been notified yet about the change, Kimberly High principal Dominik Unger said.

Many south-central Idaho high schools have advisory classes, where a student is paired up with the same advisory teacher for all four years of high school. And a handful of school districts, such as Twin Falls, also require a transition class specifically for freshmen. In the past, all Kimberly High students had an advisory class about once a week.

“The number of ‘D’s and ‘F’s decreased significantly when we did it,” Schroeder said.

The program ran for about three years but was eliminated during the 2011-12 school year in the midst of the economic recession.

Now that state funding levels for education are improving, Kimberly school officials want to create an advisory program for freshmen.

“We do have quite a few students coming in below reading level,” Unger said.

Students will receive the reading instruction if they test below grade level. Those reading at or above grade level will spend time in an English lab, where they’ll do enrichment activities.

Students will earn class credit and a grade for the freshman transitions class. But it won’t be a high school graduation requirement.

“That was something a little unorthodox when (it came) to the board,” Schroeder said.

To accommodate the new class, Kimberly High’s health class — which students currently take freshman year — will be moved to sophomore year.

In the Twin Falls School District, the required freshman transitions class includes learning study skills and reviewing “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” based on a book by Stephen Covey.

Freshmen also receive individualized reading assignments to help them prepare for college.

All Twin Falls School District high schoolers also have a required advisory class. During that time, they address attendance or grade issues, get lessons from school counselors, prepare for standardized and college testing, and have a little time for homework.

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