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9 Articles that Showcase the Power of Caring Adults to Help Youth Graduate

The number and quality of articles on promising practices in education are increasing, and there’s much to learn from what others are doing around the country to improve the lives of young people.

Lately, we’ve seen a lot of stories about schools, districts and nonprofits that are intentionally marshalling a proven strategy – the power of relationships – to increase graduation rates. As a Center for Promise research study recently concluded, “The more sources of support young people have, the better their chances to graduate from high school.”

Keeping in mind that these stories are anecdotal evidence, not research, here are nine news articles that showcase how caring adults are helping to increase the odds that young people will graduate prepared for adult success.

1) For Vulnerable Teenagers, a Web of Support, New York Times

David Bornstein, co-author of the Fixes column for the New York Times, writes a two-part story on an innovative mentoring program in Baltimore. Called Thread, the program provides “unconditional support 24 hours a day for 10 years” to struggling students facing significant adversity in their lives by engaging teams of volunteers.

2) Teachers Use Compassion To Boost Attendance At Gwinnett School, WABE, Atlanta's NPR Station

This public radio story showcases a middle school in Gwinnett County, Georgia, that’s changing its school climate by changing how teachers interact with students and adopting a new discipline system called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

3) NJ graduation rates: What's behind urban districts' remarkable improvement?, MyCentralJersey.com

At one New Jersey high school, this USA Today network outlet reports, “Every employee in the building, including janitors and security guards, mentors about a half-dozen students each year….The mentoring is backed by computer data that tracks every student, raising red flags whenever a student begins to fall behind in any class. The school follows up with tutoring sessions tailored for each student.”

4) Without support, Minnesota students left behind at graduation, Minnesota Public Radio

At Bloomington’s Kennedy High School, educators adopted a series of changes to increase graduation rates, including more caring adults -- intervention teams, student advocates, academic support programs, and a more diverse staff – plus a stricter environment, higher academic standards and a revised homework policy (reducing the weight of homework toward a student’s grade). 

(To learn more about efforts to raise the graduation rate in Minnesota and other states, read about the GradNation State Activation initiative, a collaboration between America’s Promise and Pearson.)

5) Cherokee High Gives At-Risk Seniors 'Choice' To Graduate, WABE, Atlanta’s NPR Station

Implemented by the Georgia State Department of Education in 50 school districts, a program called CHOICE aims to help seniors with learning disabilities graduate on time by providing intensive social and academic support. “In its first year,” the report states, “10 out of 12 students graduated. In the second, 16 out of 18 did.”

6) Pinellas schools using early intervention to reduce dropout rate, Tampa Bay Times

A Florida high school brings back “Cougar U, a freshman transition program at Countryside aimed at immediate intervention and increased parental involvement.” The program involves teams of teachers with common students, monthly emails to parents, and rewards “for good and improved grades, attendance and behavior.”

7) Another look at Woodburn's grad rates, The Portland Tribune

In this column, a school superintendent in Woodburn, Oregon, explains that the foundation for improved graduation rates was laid “more than 20 years ago when we introduced our dual language program. By valuing language, we also value culture and diversity. This translated to stronger parent, student and community involvement in our schools. We also have worked to strengthen significant relationships that are important in our students’ lives. This is through teachers, counselors and creating a more personal learning experience through small high school academies. We also connect kids to their community by making service learning a graduation requirement.”

8) EACS says efforts on grad rate paying off – staff diligence puts it back up to state level, The Journal Gazette

Graduation rates in East Allen, Indiana, are up, thanks to increased outreach to students who have left school, plus weekly meetings with teachers, a “credit recovery room, home visits and extra tutoring.”

9) Jefferson High graduation rates soar: here's what's working for students, The Oregonian

This article showcases the partnership between Jefferson High School and a local nonprofit that provides critical wrap-around services for students dealing with adversity in their lives. “Self Enhancement Inc. offers after-school and summer school programs in addition to mentoring and resources for families,” the paper notes. The program also provides tutoring, individual plans and credit recovery courses. (Read more about SEI here.)

This article is part of the “What’s Working” series, which highlights promising practices for helping to close the graduation gap in communities and states across the country. 

To get more news about graduation rates and effective practices to improve them, join the GradNation Learning Community. Just send an email to Corey Benjamin with your name, email address and organizational affiliation.

To join the conversation on Twitter, use #GradNation.