By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN — The Dearborn Public Schools is working to retain students and lower dropout rates for current and future students.
To work toward that goal, the district utilizes three High School Graduate Intervention Specialists to work with students at Fordson, Edsel Ford and Dearborn high schools.
The positions were created prior to the 2011-12 school year and the specialists submitted their numbers for the previous year at the May 28 DPS P-12 school board meeting.
District-wide, there was a 6.5 percent increase in on-time graduations for the last school year. There was also a 3.5 percent decrease in dropouts.
“This is after one year,” DHS specialist Chris Minor said. “We believe that by following this path there’s nothing but bright things ahead of us.”
The specialists assist the school counselors and administrators by acting as a liaison between the student and the school. They also help keep the communication lines open between the student, the parents and the school.
FHS specialist Chuck Silver said the specialists check summer school credits, keep the list of at-risk students updated, get students into night school classes or summer school when applicable and continue to monitor the grades and attendance of students.
“A lot of what we do is analyze data and take a look at students that are behind in their credits and if they continue of that path they’re not going to graduate on time,” Silver said. “Our goal is to work with these students and in the end have them be successful.”
Silver added that all three specialists are working not only with seniors, but also with all grades in the high schools so that bad habits do not develop early.
Another way the specialists are seeing improvements is in student grades. Between the three schools, 939 students who had one or more failing grades in the first or second marking period were able to reduce or eliminate the failing grades by the end of the year; 735 of these students passed all of their remaining classes.
EFHS specialist Kareem Naimi said the numbers so far are encouraging but that there is still room for improvement.
“We will continue to work with students at all of the high school grades to keep improving student success,” Naimi said.
Another area covered by the specialists is working with students who will not be able to graduate on time but can graduate a little later, whether one year later or through summer school or Adult Education classes.
“We take a look at students that didn’t graduate on time,” Silver said. “We try to figure out why they didn’t graduate and get them into the appropriate programs.”
Minor said that although getting students to graduate on time is the goal, he is still proud that the schools have been able to assist almost 40 students in graduating late.
“On-time graduation is the goal, but these students worked really hard and we were able to help them get through their classes and finish with a high school diploma,” Minor said.
DPS Board President agreed and said that “no matter how long it takes, the goal for our students is graduation.”
DPS Supt. Brian Whiston said he was encouraged by the work of the specialists and said that the graduation rates are something that has gathered the attention of the state and other schools that have been calling his office to ask what DPS are doing to lower its dropout rates and increase on-time graduations.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected].)