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graduation rate

Sharie Akinmulero is an English teacher in San Antonio, Texas.

As school districts around the country experiment with various reforms aimed to increase graduation rates and prepare student for college, one such initiative already has established a proven track record of success.

Presidio ISD, a remote, Title I, poverty-stricken Texas border district with a 98 percent Hispanic population, didn’t let limited financial resources block its goal of cultivating college-going ambitions among its nearly 1,400 students.

By leveraging a University of Texas partnership and creating a technology-infused community initiative, Superintendent Dennis McEntire and the district offered students remote access to learning opportunities over 200 miles away.

Students served by Oakland USD’s Office of African American Male Achievement have increased GPAs compared to their peers.

Oakland USD created the Office of African American Male Achievement to develop a sense of pride and identity in the black male student community, in hopes of raising achievement and eliminating harmful discipline policies. Now, other large districts across the nation are following suit to close achievement gaps and to help this population reach college- and career-readiness.

Andre D. Spencer is superintendent of the Harrison School District Two in Colorado Springs, Colo.

With the national trend of institutional achievement being measured by the number of graduates who go on to the next level of college or career, Harrison School District Two in Colorado collaborates with the community on a pioneering student success program.

Arizona and North Dakota in January became the first two states requiring high school graduates to take a U.S. citizenship exam.

Legislators in 14 others states recently introduced similar initiatives in a what’s been labeled as an effort to better prepare students to participate in a democratic society.

Credit recovery boosts graduation rate

When S. Dallas Dance became superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools in 2012, the district’s graduation rate for its 24 high schools stood at nearly 84 percent, four points above the national average. But that encouraging number masked the disparity between schools with graduation rates above 95 percent and as low as 70 percent.

U.S. graduation rates reached a historic high of over 80 percent in 2012—an increase of about 8 percent over the past decade, says America’s Promise Alliance.

“We’ve made these improvements, but we’re still left with about 20 percent of young people who are on a course to failure,” says Jonathan Zaff, executive director of the Center for Promise at Tufts University, the research center for America’s Promise Alliance.

S. Dallas Dance has raised test scores at Baltimore County Schools since becoming superintendent in 2012.

President Barack Obama in August appointed Baltimore County Schools Superintendent S. Dallas Dance to the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Dance has been superintendent in Baltimore County since 2012. He helped raise the graduation rate by 2.5 percent—to over 86 percent—between 2012 and 2013.

Superintendent Grayling Tobias of the Hazelwood School District in St. Louis County, Mo.

Superintendent Grayling Tobias of the Hazelwood School District in St. Louis County, Mo., started school as planned in August, despite the recent death of an unarmed 18-year-old who was shot multiple times in a confrontation with police in Ferguson, Mo.

Tobias arranged for extra police patrols at all buildings, and asked principals, social workers and counselors to be visible for students who need to talk or express their feelings.

Superintendent Pia Durkin visits classrooms in her district to learn about the students and staff and their needs.

Pia Durkin took the reins as superintendent of New Bedford Public Schools, one of the lowest-performing districts in Massachusetts, this past July facing a Herculean task.