Joint Legislative Commission on Dropout Prevention and High School Graduation Meeting: Summary

March 11, 2010

Senator Donald Davis

Representative Earline Parmon

Raising Graduation Rates and Student Achievement in Lexington City Schools Rick Kriesky, Superintendent, Lexington City Schools and Greg Newlin, Principal Lexington Senior High presented on the good, bad, and ugly issues with student achievement in the district. The good is: Department of Public Instruction support, Communities in Schools, Project Potential, and Freshman Academy. The bad is the test scores which show 2008-2009 Algebra I scores at 53 percent proficient and end-of-grade Reading scores at 54 percent proficient. The ugly issues are problems with curriculum alignment, building transitions, isolationism, and attention to details. Student enrollment in Lexington City schools in 832 with 73 percent economically disadvantaged. Seven percent of teachers are board certified. Teacher turnover has decreased from a high of 38 percent to 13 percent and test scores for the most part are improving over the past three years. The path to success can be found through: reconfiguring schools, reading initiatives, administrative alignment, community connections, strong grade teams, personalizing student connections, staff development, high expectations, and accountability. Greg Newlin reviewed the statistics and noted the graduation rate had improved from 42 percent to 70 percent. They are moving toward 70 percent proficiency on end-of-course tests and they have increased their scholarships for students from $0.5 million to $3.5 million. Senator Tillman expressed concern for the 47 arrests made at school and the lack of an alternative school for these students. Members addressed other program options like NCVPS and administrative support.

Christina Howell, Executive Director Communities in Schools of Lexington/Davidson County and Linda Harrill, President and CEO of Communities in Schools North Carolina presented the services being offered in Lexington City Schools. Rodney Hughey reviewed the “Achieve More” program. At the end of 2008-2009 school year students showed improved academics, improved behavior, and graduation rates increased compared to 2006-2007, while attendance and promotions had dropped, the number of students staying school was unchanged. Seventy percent of all students are passing courses.

Proposed Dropout Recommendations: The Commission made eleven recommendations for the members to consider at their final meeting in April.

  1. Amend dropout grants criteria to give preference to applicants from counties with no current grant recipients.
  2. Amend dropout grants criteria to give priority to programs serving students in schools with a cohort graduation rate of less than sixty percent in the most recent school year and one of two prior school years or have a performance composite below fifty percent.
  3. The Committee on Dropout Prevention should use the evaluation of previous program elements termed to be effective in awarding grants to those programs using these successful elements.
  4. Support for the P-20 data system and encourage the Dept. of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency and others to collect data on students they are educating.
  5. LEAs are encouraged to use EVAAS data
  6. Funding up to $100,000 from dropout grants appropriation used to assess programs and track progress of programs receiving grants including those in previous years, but who may not have a grant anymore.
  7. LEAs encouraged to match at-risk (dropout) student with staff member mentor.
  8. LEAs are to encourage students to participate in internships and job-shadowing.
  9. UNC Board of Governors is directed to study the impact of raising the compulsory attendance age from sixteen to seventeen or eighteen and to report by January 31, 2011.

10.  The Commission recommends funds be appropriated to Communities in Schools to place 100 graduation coaches in middle and highs schools across the state.

11.  The Commission directs the State Board of Education to:

  1. Prior to 2010-2011 develop a growth model with annual goals for continuous and substantial improvement in the 4 year cohort graduation rate.
  2. Establish a short-term goal for LEAs to meet the annual growth model beginning with the graduating class of 2011 and thereafter.
  3. Establish as a long-term goal a statewide 4-year cohort gradation rate of ninety percent by 2016.

Senator Queen suggested including a recommendation for a High School Graduation Center to identify best practices statewide and use of EVAAS data at the center. The Commission will have its final meeting in April to vote on their recommendations for short session.

Final Meeting: April 15, 2010 at 10:00AM.

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