Welcome to Ithaca High School's PLATO Learning information page!

This website was designed for teachers, counselors, and administrators at Ithaca High School who are confused about IHS's PLATO courses. Because it is a new and unique program there may be questions concerning the purpose and functions of PLATO--this site will attempt to address FAQ's and other concerns.

What is PLATO?

PLATO is an online course system that IHS began utilizing this past summer (2010). The program is designed to serve students who have previously failed courses or who, due to certain circumstances (i.e. a significant illness, leaving the country at the end of the year, etc.), are incapable of finishing high school without an alternative method. Instead of taking a regularly scheduled class multiple times, a student may retake the class after school through PLATO; in the future the program may also be implemented as a credit acceleration program for students who are interested in graduating early or taking classes not offered by IHS.

Goals of PLATO:

PLATO is designed to help students make up missing credits in an alternative way. Many students are unable to successfully complete classes for a variety of reasons. PLATO is designed to meet the special needs of these students. A common problem for students who qualify for the PLATO program is that their class schedules are too full to include all the courses they need to graduate. Allowing these students to complete courses after their regular school day will enable them to take all the classes needed to graduate with their cohort.

A major stated goal of PLATO is to help improve IHS's graduation rate. This past summer, PLATO allowed 9 students to graduate who would not have otherwise done so. Furthermore, 69% of all students who have taken PLATO courses at IHS have passed them and are now set to graduate on time. Considering that all the students had previously failed these courses, this success rate is significant.

Another important goal of the PLATO program is to help promote equity. PLATO works well for many at-risk and low-preforming students. Many students who have difficulty preforming successfully in a traditional school setting (because of social anxiety, work, family obligations, etc.) are successful in PLATO; they are able to take courses at times that are convenient for them and at a pace that suits their needs. Thus, the PLATO program better equips IHS to meet the needs of all it's students.

How PLATO works:

Step 1: Guidance counselors recommend a student to Jeremiah Salomon or Nate Lockett, who are both available by appointment and at the times and locations indicated in the Where are the Teachers? section. They can be reached at Nathan.Lockett@icsd.k12.ny.us or Jeremiah.Salomon@icsd.k12.ny.us. If you have a student who you think would be a candidate for PLATO, feel free to contact either teacher. They will work with the appropriate guidance counselor to determine if the particular student is a good fit for the program.

Step 2: After determining that PLATO is the right option for the student, Jeremiah and Nate assign him/her to a location to take the course and then enroll him/her in the program.

Step 3: The students are required to attend at least one four hour session per week with the instructors. They are also required to complete outside work at a separate time that is convenient to each individual. Because PLATO is self-paced, students are able to complete a course in as little as 6 weeks or can take as long as an entire academic year. The students who complete the courses the quickest often spend 15 or more hours per week doing PLATO-related work.

Classes offered:

PLATO at IHS currently offers 8 credit recovery courses. At this time there are no course offered for credit acceleration and course can only be taken if the student has previously failed the course.
English 11
English 12
US History
Participation in Government
Economics
Algebra
Geometry
Chemistry
We are looking to expand this list to include Global Studies and Biology, among others.

Funding:

Ithaca's PLATO classes are funded through the Enhancing Education Through Technology grant (EETT) which includes the cost of programs, computers, and teacher salaries. EETT is a federally funded grant that is awarded to school districts that demonstrate the ability to improve student achievement through the use of technology. As per IHS's grant application, the funding can only be used to fund the PLATO program, which includes summer school.

Impact on the General Education Classroom:

PLATO can have a positive impact on non-PLATO classrooms. All ICSD teachers have access to the PLATO content; they can use this information as lessons, as supplemental help for a student who has fallen behind, or as enrichment activities for advanced students. PLATO should have a negligible impact on class size in general education classrooms. Currently the program can help a maximum of 36 students spread across the 8 courses it provides.

National and State Standards:

PLATO's content is aligned to national learning standards and then reviewed by an IHS teacher and modified to meet both state and local standards. The customization of the courses is easy, and any course can be modified to meet IHS's standards. Like any course, the rigor, length and content is heavily dependent on the teacher who customizes it.

Credits and Grading:

Although a PLATO class covers similar content when compared to a general education class, the grading system differs. Students receive credit for PLATO courses, but no number or letter grade. The student earns either a Pass or Fail, neither of which has any effect on GPA.

Please use the navigation bar on the upper left side of the page to learn more about the PLATO program at IHS.