Strategic Planning to Improve the Graduation Rate

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Subject: SOLUTIONS

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
3:30 - 4:30 pm Eastern Time

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Systemic Renewal is one of the NDPC 15 Effective Strategies. Learn how one school system has used this process of planning and continuous review of results to help keep students in school.

The Fargo Public Schools, Fargo, ND, never suffered from the severely low graduation rates experienced in some areas of the country. However, in the upper Midwest, with an exceptional work ethic and high value placed on education, an 83% graduation rate was considered unacceptable. In 2003, the Fargo Schools contracted with the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University to conduct a Program Assessment and Review (PAR). PAR is a systemic assessment and planning process to assist schools and school districts to plan solutions for keeping students in school and improving graduation rates. The PAR provided the school district with ten recommendations, and the district has been building on those suggestions, bringing the graduation rate up to 90%. Deb Dillon, Fargo Public Schools Director of Alternative Programs, has been coordinating these efforts, and she will share the process the district has used.

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Deb Dillon

Deb Dillon is the Director of Alternative Programs for the Fargo Public Schools in Fargo, ND. Deb accepted this position when it was created in 2003 following a Program Assessment and Review (PAR) conducted by the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University. Deb previously held positions as alternative high school principal, assistant middle school principal, high school dean of students, high school dropout prevention program director, and English and journalism teacher. Over the past six years, the Fargo schools have added a variety of alternative programs (school-within-a-school, online, evening) and are also working to create programs and processes within the traditional schools K-12 to better serve the needs of all students. The graduation rate has risen during that time from 83% to 90%, and the district's overall dropout prevention program was recognized in 2008 with a Magna Award from the National School Board Association.

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