Roughly 10 percent of freshmen class students nationwide find themselves struggling to earn enough credits to pass ninth grade, leaving them with only a 20-percent chance of graduating on time. This past year, the Metropolitan School District (MSD) of Decatur Township teamed up with the University of Chicago to combat this issue by implementing a Student Transition and Enrichment Pathway (STEP), a research-based program proven to produce growth in academic achievement and graduation rates among high school students. With its new STEP program in place, Decatur Township experienced significant success in just six months.

Does your school district face the same problems with its graduation rates? If you’re looking to improve the success of your students these steps can help you get to the root of the problem and establish strategies to increase key graduation statistics.

Identify the indicators of falling behind
In order to effectively battle increasing dropout rates, educators need to first research statistics and identify specific indicators that lead to high school students falling behind. The STEP program identifies these indicators by reviewing each student’s academic performance and attendance. This allows educators to distinguish which students are “at risk” and need additional support and encouragement on their path to graduation.

How to use data to increase student success rates

Ahead of the next school year or semester, our district invited the identified at-risk students to participate in a pilot year of the data-driven STEP program. The program gives these students the opportunity to focus on literacy and math skills and core academic courses while receiving social and emotional support.

(Next page: More steps to improve student success)

About the Author:

Nate Davis is the assistant superintendent of schools at MSD of Decatur Township. He has an extensive background in education and is dedicated to 21st century learning. Nate believes in developing compassionate leadership in others, while possessing the relentless drive to close the achievement gap for Decatur township students and helping each community member realize the potential they have for success. For more information on Decatur Township, please visit www.decaturproud.org.


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