Student Success of the SOAR Program

The Middle School Student Opportunity for Academic Recovery (SOAR) Program is designed for students who are over the traditional middle school age because of retention, truancy, or other challenges. The goal of the program is to provide academic recovery in the form of a pathway for students to complete middle school and transition to high school.

  • 80% of students enrolled for the full SOAR semester in Spring 2019 remained in SOAR.
  • 70% of the students enrolled for the full SOAR semester increased engagement and successfully passed courses.
  • 100% of students enrolled for the full SOAR Fall 2020 remained in the SOAR Program.
  • In January, 2020, 8 Middle School SOAR students were promoted to High School SOAR courses to begin earning credits towards graduation.

Congratulations to our dedicated and hardworking SOAR students who keep continuing to excel in this program!

About the SOAR Program

MS SOAR began with a pilot of its 7th grade courses in Spring 2019. It currently includes SOAR 6 (a one-year program) and SOAR 7 and 8 (half-year programs). Over 100 students have been enrolled in the MS SOAR program, with a number of those students graduating from PALCS.

The Middle School SOAR Program sets high expectations for the students to complete grade-level, project-based work, with the purpose of preparing them for high school courses. Daily Virtual Lesson and weekly meetings are required, and small class sizes allow for small-group and individual Lesson Help time on a daily basis.

How the SOAR Program differs from Traditional PALCS Courses

SOAR courses differ from traditional PALCS courses. Each grade level will be completed in half a school year, accelerating the transition to high school. Content areas will be blended together (Math/Science, and Language Arts/Social Studies); while foundational skills and concepts of each content area will be taught in separate lessons or modules, thematic units and projects will use a cross-curricular approach, combining content from multiple disciplines.

Eligibility for the SOAR Program

Students eligible for the Middle School SOAR Program must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Have been retained for one or more school years
  • Are over the traditional age for their middle school grade (13 years or older in 6th grade; 14 years or older in 7th grade; 15 years or older in 8th grade)
  • May turn 21 years old before their high school graduation date
  • Are at-risk for being retained in their current grade (along with one of the above criteria)

Hear from Ms. Amy Sarno, SOAR Program Coordinator:

Ms. Sarno says that she is proud of the Middle School SOAR students who have now progressed to high school courses. “This program has been a huge motivator for students who felt they did not have a way to “catch up” with their peers; now that they are finally beginning to earn high school credits, the pathway to graduation is clear.”

Next, Ms. Sarno shares one of the greatest rewards of teaching at PALCS. “Having the opportunity to find innovative ways to help students when they are struggling or have fallen behind their grade level. With the Middle School SOAR Program, we have been able to personalize student learning and engage both students and parents in taking ownership of their education. It is exciting to see students regain their confidence and make progress!”

Hear from Mr. Shawn Voyten, SOAR Language Arts/Social Studies Teacher:

Mr. Voyten says that the Middle School SOAR Program, “has been a wonderful opportunity to see students take responsibility and ownership of their education. The program offers an innovative way for students to set goals for themselves and take the steps necessary to accomplish them. One of the best things about SOAR is how closely we are able to work with each student.

He adds, “I have loved the ability to work so closely with the SOAR students and see the success that they have had. I think it is a great opportunity for them to be creative and show how off their strengths.”

Hear from Lori Lindsay a SOAR Students Parent:

Lori Lindsay, the parent of Jonathan Lindsay, a student who has been promoted from the Middle School SOAR Program to High School SOAR courses has been very impressed with the second chance for her son’s education. “We have been so pleased with the SOAR Program and all of the help that the teachers provided for our son. The teachers were always ready and willing to help him anytime he needed through the virtual lesson help.”

She adds, “Our son’s education has really flourished since being a part of the SOAR Program. We have been so happy with PALCS in general!”

Keeping the teacher-student ratio small also means that the teachers are able to offer a lot of one-on-one help and give quick feedback on assignments. In Ms. Sarno’s position as the coordinator she is communicating with students and parents multiple times a week as well as contacting them as soon as issues arise. The Middle School SOAR students and parents have noted that this much connection has been supportive.


Questions? Contact us!

Amy Sarno, SOAR Program Coordinator
1.877.725.2785 ex. 1260