The U.S. Department of Education (USDoe) recently released the latest high school graduation rate (2009-10). The data indicated a substantial rise (78.2%) in the graduation rate for all ethnic groups since the record high rate (73.4%) in 2005-06. This increase in high school graduation rate helps to produce a generation of academically skilled workers to meet the demand of 21st Century jobs. Most importantly the data demonstrates an increase in graduation rate as states attempt to close the achievement gap between minority students (African-American and Latino / Hispanic) and white students.
I had a great opportunity to work with Austin-East High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. The school is 90 percent African-American, 10 percent white and 83 percent socio-economically disadvantaged. The USDEO data documents a 2003-2010 State of Tennessee graduation rate trend. This particular high school’s graduation rate was 10 percent below the state average of 63 percent in 2003, but their graduation rate rose to finish 5 percent above the state average of 80 percent in 2010.
This school was on the brink of falling under state control, but made tremendous gains in changing the school culture and practices. The work created a keen awareness that high school graduates have to leave college and career-ready. Most importantly, the students graduated with a higher level of efficacy and resolve as they entered college or a career.
Austin-East High School Collaborative Action Steps To Increase Graduation Rates
Personalized Teaching and Learning
- Student advisory system focused on student academic behaviors
- Personalized student growth plans
- Cross-curricular and content specific time for teachers to collaborate on student learning outcomes
- Using academic data, identify student at risk of not graduating (i.e. standardized assessments, school attendance patterns, under credited, etc.)
- Alternative academic intervention programs (night school, credit recovery, interventions built into the school day, after school tutoring)
- Positive behavior supports
- Daily attendance incentive
Positive Behavior Recognition
- Parental engagement
- Academic growth recognition
- College tours
- College / university partnership with University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State
- ACT preparatory course
- Early college application process