Louisville Dropout Prevention Summit
Improving Louisville’s High School Graduation Rates: "1 in 4 is Too Many"
July 30, 2008
Convener: Mayor Jerry E. Abramson, along with Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Dr. Sheldon Berman
Estimated Attendance: 400 community and educational leaders
Summit Location: Bellarmine University
- The summit fulfilled one of the goals outlined under Louisville’s three “Deep Drivers of Change,” which grew out of the Brookings Institution study prior to merger of city and county governments in 2003. The Education driver – has a measurable goal significant to all Louisvillians: “Improve education at all levels and double the projected growth in young adults with bachelor’s degrees to 10,000 by 2010; bring about comparable increase in high school graduation, associate degrees and technical certificates.” The Greater Louisville Project, which is funded by local foundations, is charged with deep driver collaboration.
- Post summit, the Mayor will form a “civic table,” much like his highly successful Mayor’s Health Hometown Movement, to move educational attainment forward. This group, most likely to be called Graduate Greater Louisville, and many are the same groups that attended the summit. The purpose will be to serve as an umbrella group under which programming can be organized, yet each agency retains its specific target groups and goals.
- Keynote speaker was Governor Bob Wise of the Alliance for Excellent Education
- Annie E. Casey Foundation also hosted a parental engagement summit in mid July to ensure parents are included as thought leaders in the dropout prevention conversation.
Summit Planning Team:
The Summit Planning Team included in-school and out of school youth, representatives of the Louisville Metro Mayor’s Office and Office of Youth Development, the Jefferson County Public Schools (including the Louisville Education and Employment Project), Greater Louisville Inc. (Chamber of Commerce), Metro United Way, community and faith-based youth service agencies, KentuckianaWorks, and the Greater Louisville Project.
Louisville's Dropout Prevention Action Plan
Progress Since the Summit
One year ago, Mayor Jerry E. Abramson and Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Dr. Sheldon Berman jointly opened the Graduate Greater Louisville High School Graduation Summit with the vision of “Every student in Louisville, Kentucky graduates high school with the knowledge, skills and motivation required to enter postsecondary education and obtain a high school degree.” They also announced two bold goals:
- Reduce the dropout rate in the Jefferson County Public Schools by 50% in 10 years.
- Louisville will move into the top tier among 15 competitive cities in high school
graduation in 10 years.
Since that time, many groups have contributed to progress toward the objectives set out as a result of the summit. Click here to view the one-year post-summit update from Louisville.
Examples of Legislative and Policy Changes
Increasing compulsory school age: Proposed multiple times in past years, increasing the compulsory age for school attendance in Kentucky from 16 to 18 years of age made it through the House Education Committee for the first time during the 2009 legislative session. Because of its $15M price tag – and the state’s severe budget deficit – Governor Steve Beshear was unable to support the legislation during this session.
Senate Bill 1: A recommendation of the summit was to align Kentucky’s accountability system with No Child Left Behind, creating fewer, deeper standards, and aligning with higher education requirements. Kentucky’s SB-1 restructures the state’s school accountability assessment system and calls for alignment among systems.
Truants: As a result of the summit, JCPS leaders informally reviewed the ability of law enforcement officers to pick up truants; the current statue will have to be changed to allow this action. However, a Truancy Summit was held with local judicial and law enforcement systems representatives to identify other ways to reduce truancy.
Elizabeth Stith, Grants Coordinator
Louisville Metro Office of Youth Development
2743 Virginia Avenue
Louisville, KY 40211