This week on NPR’s Tell Me More, host Michel Martin sat down with two education experts to discuss the recent good news that not only is America’s high school graduation rate improving, but the biggest gains are being seen among minority students. While several theories were offered, including speculation that weaker requirements for graduation are responsible for the 80 percent graduation rate, it turns out that school districts, such as Houston Independent School District, are actually raising the graduation requirements.
So, how are schools simultaneously raising standards and raising graduation rates?
For Daniel Gohl, chief academic officer at Houston Independent School District, the key to success has been found in personalized learning. To set the stage, in 2007 the graduation rate in the Houston Independent School District was 56 percent, but last year reached an all-time high of 88 percent, just two percent shy of the target of 90 percent. The district has taken a multi-faceted approach to creating a safety net for at risk students—from shutting down underperforming schools to address the systemic reasons for failure, to the creation of dropout prevention teams and extended hour school facilities. The key is in tailoring educational opportunities to meet student need, including credit recovery labs.
For Gohl, credit recovery and ensuring that “high school [is not] … monolithic” are the key to his district’s success. He observed that “[e]very student has a credit recovery lab because if you’re missing an English II credit and you’ve been in high school for five years, you’ll never walk [the] stage. But you’re not going to sit with 14-year-olds when you’re a 19-year-old. So allowing students to master those skills in their own time in their own way” is fundamental to success.
To listen to the full interview with Mr. Gohl and Emily Richardson, public editor of the Education Writers Association, and Tell Me More host Michel Martin, click here…