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Florence City Schools, Florence, Alabama
Florence City Schools
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Florence City Schools struggled to find leaders and retain them.

Administrators knew that establishing a consistent form of strong leadership would increase student achievement and promote a cohesive culture. So administrators rolled out an initiative called IMPACT80, whereby the district partnered with the University of North Alabama to provide advanced degrees for 80 administrators or teachers who had already worked at the district for at least two years.

In their agreement, the district, university and employee each pay one-third of the tuition.

The effort led to a similar program, ADVANCE12, wherein Florence City Schools partnered with Samford University and a local philanthropist to provide doctoral degrees to 12 school and district administrators.

IMPACT80 and ADVANCE12 provide continuity and improve retention. Teachers and administrators agree to work an additional three years beyond graduation or repay 66 percent of the tuition already paid.

After implementing IMPACT80 and ADVANCE12, the graduation rate of students increased from 68 percent in 2010 to 96 percent in 2016.

To start your own program:

  • Build partnerships with local universities.
  • Deliver persuasive messages to the community that education is key to student success and economic development.
  • Provide evidence of immediate results and long-lasting implications that will encourage community partners to join the initiative.