Editor’s Picks 2015, No. four: 4 things innovative districts do to improve graduation rates

Forward-thinking practices focus on college and career readiness

graduation-ratesAs the skills expected of today’s graduates change rapidly, school districts have to overhaul their thinking on what it means to be “college and career ready.” Conventional wisdom around when and where students learn, what knowledge they need to be successful, and who they are as learners is all rapidly changing, especially as technology becomes more prevalent in classrooms.

This is all top of mind for members of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, a coalition of around 57  forward-thinking districts and leaders across the country, who are committed to improving the opportunity to learn for all of their students through technology and research. We rounded up some best practices League members use to ensure students stay in school, get their degrees, and are prepared for success in their post-secondary endeavors.

Learning can happen anytime, anywhere…Read More

U.S. makes modest gains in graduation rates

The average national graduation rate was 75 percent in 2009, up 3.5 percentage points from 2001. Still, that means 1 in 4 students drops out of school.

The last straw for 17-year-old Alton Burke was a note left on his door. The high school dropout picked up the phone and re-enrolled at South Hagerstown High.

Burke missed roughly 200 days of class, but Heather Dixon, the student intervention specialist who left the note, never gave up on him.

Aggressive efforts to prevent students such as Burke from dropping out contributed to a modest 3.5 percentage point increase nationally in the high school graduation rate from 2001 to 2009, according to research to be presented March 19 at the Grad Nation summit in Washington, D.C. The event was organized by the children’s advocacy group America’s Promise Alliance, founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell.…Read More

New bill focuses on U.S. graduation rates

Reports show that high school graduates have a positive impact on local and state economies.

New legislation introduced in Congress proposes to reduce the U.S. high school dropout rate in an effort to reach a national graduation rate of 90 percent. The bill also would require states to use a consistent method to report graduation data.

The Every Student Counts Act, introduced April 7 by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va., notes that according to a 2008 Department of Labor report, by 2016 almost 90 percent of the fastest-growing and best-paying jobs in the country will require at least some postsecondary education.

Track the bill’s progress in the U.S. House of Representatives here, and in the U.S. Senate here.…Read More

Obama urges Americans to take the lead in higher education

President Barack Obama urged Americans Aug. 9 to crack the books and boost post-secondary graduation rates, arguing that higher education achievement was key to U.S. economic health, AFP reports. “America has to have the highest share of graduates compared to other nations. But Texas, I want you to know, we’ve been slipping,” Obama said on a visit to the University of Texas. “In a single generation, we’ve fallen from first place to 12th place in college graduation rates for young adults. That’s unacceptable, but it’s not irreversible. We can retake the lead,” Obama stressed, adding: “Education is the economic issue of our time,” Obama insisted, arguing: “The countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow.”

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