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Improved Graduation and Dropout Rates for the Fourth Year Running

2012 July 16
by HISD Communications

It’s a day of historic progress at HISD. The TEA has released news that more HISD students are graduating on time and fewer of them are dropping out, marking the fourth year in a row that the district has achieved this remarkable milestone.

HISD’s latest dropout rate of 11.8 percent and four-year graduation rate of 78.5 percent are the best they have been under the accountability system Texas put into place in 2007. In just four years (from 2007 to 2011), HISD has posted a 30 percent increase in the number of diplomas it has awarded. I have to give credit to the district’s teachers, principals, and staff for this continued march toward excellence. Innovative programs are helping us get there. Just a few of the highlights:

  • Grad Labs in high schools across the district are helping struggling students graduate on time through online credit recovery under the guidance of campus-based graduation coaches.
  • Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention (DRIP) committees on high school campuses bring staff together for regular strategy meetings to discuss plans for keeping students in school and for bringing back those who have left.  Committee members include principals, guidance counselors, Grad Lab coaches, and social workers. Click here to see a video featuring the work of Lee High School’s DRIP committee.
  • A partnership with Houston Community College to launch Houston Innovative Learning Zone career and technical education programs inside six campuses. Graduates of these programs will receive associate’s degrees and professional certifications that will help them succeed in college or to immediately enter the workforce. Click here to read more about the HILZ initiative.
  • Computer-generated Dropout Prevention Early Warning reports that use student data to alert schools when students are exhibiting risk factors that could lead to them becoming dropouts. This early identification tool helps school leaders intervene before students drop out.
  • Assigning a dozen student caseworkers across HISD to specific at-risk students to help them overcome obstacles that could lead to them dropping out of high school. The caseworkers coordinate efforts and programs to keep at-risk students connected to a positive school experience and to re-connect students who have dropped out to opportunities to receive a high school diploma.

Students who cannot read on grade level almost assuredly have an uphill climb toward graduation. A key part of the district’s strategy for helping even more students graduate in the years to come is its literacy initiative. This fall, HISD is launching a revamped English language arts curriculum designed in partnership with teachers and training provided by the Neuhaus Education Center. In the upcoming school year, sixth- and ninth-graders who are reading below grade level will receive an extra daily class period of reading instruction using specially designed curriculum from Neuhaus.

I’m very proud to be part of an organization that strives to make sure every student leaves HISD with a diploma in hand. It’s still a work in progress, and we can continue to improve our numbers.

We have to convince kids living in Houston, Texas, that life without a diploma isn’t much of a life at all. We are fortunate to live in a community that cares and supports our kids, which is so important. Dropout prevention isn’t just one person’s problem – it belongs to all of us.

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