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TN Participating in New Program to Stem High School Dropout Rates

Press Release from Gov. Phil Bredesen:

National Governors Association Center Selects State to Participate in Two-Year Initiative

NASHVILLE – Tennessee has been selected by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) to participate in the Policy Academy on State Strategies to Achieve Graduation for All.

The state will receive $50,000 to develop a dropout prevention and recovery work plan that supports the development of state policies and practices designed to increase graduation rates. Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire and West Virginia have also been selected to participate in the program.

“I’m pleased Tennessee has the opportunity to become more involved in developing strategies to fight this growing problem,” Governor Phil Bredesen said. “At a time when we are focused on implementation of more rigorous standards for high school students and graduates, it is important to also retain a focus on our students who are most in danger of not completing their degrees. This grant will help Tennessee establish an ‘early warning system’ to address those particular students while working through the Tennessee Diploma Project and Race to the Top to elevate the achievement of all students.”

As part of the Academy, Tennessee will receive an in-depth data analysis of the location and scope of the dropout problem in the state, use information from the analysis to identify project activities and participate in Policy Academy meetings. The program will help clearly identify the dropout problem, assess gaps in student supports for preventing students from dropping out of school and for recovering students that drop out, and create a dropout prevention and recovery action plan for implementation that includes possible tactics such as state policies, executive orders, advisory councils, legislation or regulatory reforms.

“When a student drops out of high school, it hurts that individual’s opportunity for a bright, successful future and is a loss to society as a whole,” said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center. “Those who drop out of high school are less likely than others to be employed, more likely to receive public assistance and more likely to be incarcerated. The State Strategies to Achieve Graduation for All initiative will help Tennessee and the other selected states devise policies to combat the dropout problem.”

The initiative is informed by a report recently released by the NGA Center, Achieving Graduation for All: A Governor’s Guide to Dropout Prevention and Recovery, which identifies the root causes of the high school dropout problem and offers an action plan for states to curb dropouts, help youth succeed and strengthen state economies. Specific recommendations contained in the report for states to reduce the incidence of not completing high school include promoting high school graduation for all, targeting youth at-risk of dropping out, reengaging youth who have dropped out of school and providing rigorous, relevant options for earning a high school diploma.

For more information about this initiative and other NGA Center Education Division efforts, go here.

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