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BVMS principals revive ICU program
Homework assignments now completed on timely basis
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

October 04. 2013 9:17AM
Overdue homework assignments are now being handed in a more timely basis at Brandon Valley Middle School, thanks in large part to the “resurrection” of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) program.

Although the ICU program was implemented at Brandon Valley Middle School about two years ago, Principal Brad Thorson and assistant principal Nick Skibsted revived the program at the start of the current school year.

“ICU is a program that deals with student apathy or those students who don’t complete their homework,” Thorson explained to the BV Board of Education at their Sept. 23 meeting.

Thorson said that a student is placed on the ICU list by the teacher of the class in which he/she has a missing assignment, completed unsatisfactory work, etc. It’s up to the student to complete the work to the teacher’s satisfaction, at which time he/she – with the click of a computer mouse – literally removes their name and infraction from the ICU list.

“The students physically remove their name,” Thorson said, “So we tell the teachers to ‘celebrate’ that with them.”

A helpful tool of ICU is the communication aspect of the program. Each time a student is assigned to the ICU database, a parent’s cell phone will receive a text message and a follow-up email is sent within seconds. For families in the district that do not have cell phone and/or Internet access, a hard copy of the ICU status is mailed to them, Thorson said.

“There are only a handful of students (families) that don’t have email access,” Thorson said.

Once the student is removed from ICU, the parent receives follow-up notification.

“We want parents to be engaged in their child’s education,” he said.

The ICU program at BVMS provides two scheduled times each day for students who are behind on their homework or not producing quality work. Teachers are available before the start of the school day to accept homework, take students off ICU, etc., and two teachers are available in the library during each of the three scheduled middle school lunch breaks. Some teachers also work with students who need more help or are too far behind after school.

“We’re striving for 100 percent,” Thorson said. “So if it’s not completed, you’re in ICU, and you remain in ICU until it’s done and is of good quality.”

Over the course of about two weeks, Thorson said the ICU program has had 712 missing assignments completed and turned in. As of Sept. 23, Thorson said that number stood at 213 missing assignments involving 91 students.

While administrators were excited about the 712 completed assignments, Thorson said they’d like to see that number come down.

“We had a ton put on (ICU) today,” Thorson said Monday night, adding that number typically hovers between 45 and 50. “We’re talking that about 6 percent of our kids have some sort of assignment missing,” he said.

The ICU program, Skibsted said, isn’t intended to “penalize” students.

“ICU’s philosophy is that you don’t dock them for anything,” Skibsted said. “You get the grade because you did the work.”
At Brandon Valley, students are docked 10 percent, though, he said, adding that number can be “tweaked” at anytime.

Since the program’s revival, Thorson said he has yet to field a call from a parent yet that doesn’t support the program.

“We’re trying to get the kids to understand that if they complete their assignments and get off that list, they’re going to feel better about themselves, and it’s maybe going to motivate them to get their assignments done on time,” Thorson said. “And we truly believe this is a program that will help our students in many, many ways.”





The ICU program was revived at Brandon Valley Middle School this year. the program has students completing homework assignments on a more timely basis. Challenger file photo



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