Improving High School Graduation Rates

High School Success, Teachers & Principals | 09/04/2019

Libuse Binder
Executive Director

Kicking off the New Academic Year, Innovative Center Partners With Schools To Improve High School Graduation Rates

Data, proven policies, and partnerships at core of new center to support 9th graders

Fact Sheet - Washington Center for High School Success

(SEATTLE) - Stand for Children Washington is celebrating the first month of the new Center for High School Success by releasing an update on its progress as students return to school from summer break. Following the launch of the new program to improve high school graduation rates, the Center has already hosted two institutes in Yakima. East Valley in Spokane, Ellensburg, and Highline have also partnered with the Center since its launch, bringing the current total of partner districts to ten.

The Center for High School Success is a new data-based program founded on proven policies for increasing high school graduation rates called the Center for High School Success officially launched in Washington State. During the 2018-19 school year the Center will be partnering with ten districts in Washington - East Valley in Spokane, Ellensburg, Evergreen, Grandview, Highline, Moses Lake, Pride Prep, Toppenish, Warden, and Wahluke - to provide free support services in participating schools that includes one-on-one support coaches for teachers and staff, data analytics support to track student progress, inter-district networking to share best practices, and access to ongoing policy research evaluating how to best identify and support ninth graders at-risk of not graduating high school. The Center’s Ninth Grade Success approach is informed by research findings that students who are on-track to graduate at the end of ninth grade are four times more likely to graduate than their off-track peers. The approach also has a proven track record for improving graduation rates in public schools. Washington currently ranks 44th in the nation with a 79.4 percent graduation rate and is facing persistent achievement gaps for Native American, Asian Pacific Islander, Black and Hispanic students.

The Center’s launch comes on the heels of a five-district pilot project being funded by the 2019 State Legislature to pilot a program through OSPI which aims to improve graduation results by focusing on research-based interventions for 9th grade students.

“I am proud of the investments we have made to improve student outcomes across our entire state,” said Washington State Representative Eric Pettigrew. “By studying programs that directly benefit students with unique needs and then scaling them up to work in every district, we can show that we can be leaders when it comes to providing a high-quality education to everyone. The Center for High School Success brings a new model for leveraging data and classroom experience to align our investments with each school’s resources to help every student graduate high school."

The Memphis Freshman Success Network - a similar program already underway in Memphis, TN -  announced earlier this year that their 13 participating schools saw a combined 16 percent increase in the percentage of freshmen who were on track for graduation in the 2018-19 school year, outpacing non-participating districts.

“I am excited about the launch of the Center for High School Success. High quality, well-rounded education is foundational to the wellbeing of our state and our nation,” said Dr. Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs and professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington. “Educator training and support, policies that support student learning, and data guided school improvement are all important means by which our students and our communities come to imagine and reach their full potential.”

The Center will work closely with the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction in alignment with the state’s School Improvement Framework that identifies 9th grade success as a key metric. All student performance data monitored under the partnership between the Center for High School success and its participating district partners is subject to the same privacy protections and standards practiced by all state public schools. Any data received by the Center for High School success will be “de-identified,” meaning that student metrics will be anonymized completely to protect their privacy.

Jinger Haberer, Superintendent of Ellensburg School District, attended one of the initial institutes the Center hosted in Yakima earlier in August. “As a superintendent, I am passionate about equity. I have really appreciated how Stand has used an equity lens when working with high school freshmen and look forward to how our partnership will further improve our efforts to help every student graduate on time,” said Haberer.

“On behalf of the entire staff of the Center for High School Success, we are dedicated to identifying the needs of our state’s high school ninth graders who are at risk of not graduating high school,” said Kaaren Andrews, director of the Center for High School Success. “Over the past 20 years, I have worked as a leader in public schools to address systemic and structural inequities that continue to negatively impact the most vulnerable youth. The research on the correlation between success in ninth grade and graduating from high school is the kind of indisputable evidence needed to aggressively pursue strategies to ensure ninth grade success for every student in every high school. I applaud the Washington State Legislature for their leadership in their first step of funding a pilot project on the Ninth Grade Success approach and thank our partner districts for their dedication to student success. But I am convinced that we must accelerate implementation of these programs that are using evidence-based strategies now, to ensure every student has access to programs that will make a difference.

The initial staff for the Center for High School Success, in addition to Kaaren Andrews, includes Dr. Jennifer Wiley.

The Center for High School Success is funded by Stand for Children Washington. Stand for Children is a non-profit education advocacy organization focused on ensuring all students receive a high quality, relevant education, especially those whose boundless potential is overlooked and under‑tapped because of their skin color, zip code, first language, or disability.

The Center for High School Success, a program of Stand for Children, is a free service dedicated to supporting educators focused on Ninth Grade Success programs to improve high school graduation rates in Washington State. Founded in 2019, the Center for High School Success partners with public school teachers and staff to support ninth graders at risk of not graduating high school by providing data-based, proven interventions for addressing each student’s individual needs.

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