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Minneapolis Guidance Department Boosts Grad Rates With Online Tool

How Naviance improved Minneapolis’ rate of college-bound graduates.

Shelly Landry, Minneapolis Public Schools’ lead counselor and former president of the Minnesota Counselors Association, swears that Naviance has transformed the district’s guidance department, which manages nearly 34,570 K12 students. Landry says that the program, an online tool for tracking students’ progress in preparing for college, has improved the rate of graduates headed to college.

Since it started using Naviance two years ago, the district has seen an increase of 30 percent in the number of students who have postsecondary education and career plans, and the number of students attending a four-year college has increased by 6 percent. Landry says that the class of 2011 showed an improvement of 15 percent over the previous year, with 87 percent of students heading to college.

“It’s the students that say they’re interested in college but aren’t sure about how to tackle the process that we need to hone in on,” says Landry. Through the Naviance framework, the district is able to personalize a pathway for all students beginning in grade 9 that includes their postsecondary goals, what courses they need to complete, what is financially possible, and what opportunities are ahead for them—and particularly helpful for students who are the first generation of college-goers in their family.

The Naviance platform allows parents to find out how their children are faring in their high school careers and where they stand academically when they graduate.

“We heavily rely on the management side of the system, which provides us with instant feedback and monitors students’ progress, their information, unique scholarship opportunities, and individual planning,” says Landry. This school year, the guidance department in Minneapolis received iPads, which Landry had been advocating for to replace PCs and manila files. Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, developers at Naviance are working with MPS and other districts to track students after they leave the K12 realm. By subscribing to National Student Clearinghouse data, Naviance can import student outcomes to run reports on alumni data and better assess its college preparedness programs.

“The biggest benefit to the counseling team is to be more efficient and effective for our students,” Landry says. “This tool is really helping our district meet our vision on preparing all students to be college and career ready.”