A Review of the Building a Grad Nation Summit

Posted by on June 8, 2014

By Hillary Kane

Last month, PHENND Director Hillary Kane and K-16 Partnerships Coordinator Liz Shriver, had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC, for the Building a Grad Nation Summit. One of the largest gatherings of educators and policy makers, the Building a Grad Nation Summit shines the light on to twin issues of decreasing high school drop and increasing college attainment.

Below are some of the highlights and take aways that PHENND found important:

The Building a Grad Nation Annual Report (http://gradnation.org/resource/building-gradnation-progress-and-challenge-ending-high-school-dropout-epidemic-2014) – For the first time, the United States is graduating over 80% of high school students. According to the report, the five keys to getting to 90% are focusing on: students with special needs, California, male students of color, urban districts, and closing the opportunity gap.

Truancy and Attendance – There is a now a realization that “average daily attendance,” which is what most districts and schools use to measure absenteeism, is not sufficient to truly diagnose chronically persistent problems. Schools are also focusing on the connection between health and absenteeism. In Dallas, at one school they realized that 48% of the absences were due to health issues. At other schools, they realized that 95% of students who see the school nurse can go back to the classroom, but if there is no school nurse, a children are instead picked up by parents to go to the doctor, they generally don’t return to class that day. This is leading districts to think more about the co-location of health care services. Finally, we were introduced to the Attendance Works Toolkit (http://www.attendanceworks.org/attendancemonth/count-us-in-toolkit/).

Community Schools is a promising practice as an “integrated student support.” – Child Trends, a national research and advocacy organization, recently published a report on “Integrated Student Support,” an umbrella term that covers a variety of interventions focused on holistic support of children and their families. Common elements of ISS are (1) Student and school needs assessment, (2) Coordinated student support, (3) Community partnerships, (4) Integration within schools, and (5) Data tracking. Interestingly, Community Schools is one of the ISS strategies that was analyzed in the report. Read more here: http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/2014-05ISSWhitePaper3.pdf

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