We’re Making Progress to Improve High School Graduation

older kids

Earlier this year, ROC the Future set out to develop a team to look at the factors impacting high school graduation while using data to inform process and improve progress. In February 2018, we convened community leaders involved in this work to hear from experts on factors driving high school graduation and what the data shows as it relates to 9th grade credit accumulation and disaggregated graduation data across the district and local charter schools.

Early in the process, a Data Advisory Team was established to review current data, as well as to review and understand the factors impacting high school graduation. This work is being led by Dr. Evan Blaine who is an applied statistician and Professor of Statistics at St. John Fisher College. His consulting work with ROC the Future is supported by Convener member St. John Fisher College.

Members of the newly formed Data Advisory Team met with the University of Rochester’s Center for Urban Education Success (CUES) to learn of their work at East High School. Since the Educational Partnership Organization (EPO), established in 2014-15, East High School has developed a Ninth Grade Academy to focus on student growth and development to high school success.

In 2014-15, 48.8% of 9th graders at East High School were promoted to 10th grade. By 2016-17, the 9th grade promotion rate improved to 77.4%. What’s more, the four-year graduation rate increased from 33.3% in 2014-15 to ~61% in 2017-18. This look into what’s happening at East informed how we thought about strategies to improve high school graduation rates across the district. We recognize that ninth grade is a critical benchmark as that is the academic year that credit attainment begins. The data shows that this focus has resulted in tremendous progress.

Since our initial Outcome Team meeting, we have met four times as a large group, led by Hank Rubin, retired Vice President of Rochester Area Community Foundation, Rosemary Rivera of Citizen Action and Cecilia Golden, RCSD Deputy Superintendent.

During our final meeting with the original Outcome Team we shared our next steps which includes the opportunity for RCSD high schools to submit a proposal to launch a Strategy Team that will implement interventions to impact the 9th grade experience. Initially, we committed to 4-5 meetings and have completed that task. A reconstituted HS Graduation Outcome Team will continue the work ahead with several original members staying on board.

We look forward to working with this team and will provide updates on our team’s progress in our monthly newsletters and our website.