Graduation Success Initiative: A Full Court Press Approach


In 2011, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS)—one of the largest school districts in the state of North Carolina—developed and implemented the Graduation Success Initiative (GSI). It began as a student-centered districtwide approach to assess each senior’s status in meeting graduation requirements. While maintaining the student-centered focus, the GSI has evolved into an integrated and systematic tool—used by many stakeholders—that promotes graduation integrity and success. The result for CMS has been a significant increase in graduation rates. This presentation will include a brief overview of CMS, the superintendent’s vision, the first year’s creation and implementation of the GSI, the current process, and outcomes.

Viewers of this Solutions program will learn about:

  • The challenges of a large urban school district as it pertains to graduation success
  • Why there was a need for a systematic approach
  • Lessons learned from the first year of implementation
  • The current process
  • Outcomes and successes as a result of the GSI


Extended Version of Program Powerpoint

Graduation checklist: used by counselors in concert with the GSI; the graduation checklist is an assessment of the student’s progress in meeting graduation requirements at a specific time.  pdf

GSI template: fluid monitoring tool



From At-Risk to Academic Excellence: What Successful Leaders Do

Based upon Franklin Schargel’s recent book, ‘From At-Risk to Academic Excellence: What Successful Leaders Do’, this Webcast will bring together the wisdom and experience from over 50 schools that have been categorized as “high performing, high minority, high poverty.” Mr. Schargel will show us how the leaders of those schools succeeded in raising academic achievement, motivating students, boosting parent and community involvement, and applying the Three R’s — Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships.


Presentation Slides pdf.

Schargel, F. P. (2005).  Best Practices to Help At-Risk Learners.

Friedman, M., Harwell, D. H., & Schnepel, K. C. (2006).  Effective Instruction: A Handbook of Evidence-Based Strategies.

Schargel, F. P. (2008).  Franklin Schargel’s Recommended Resources.

Schargel, F. P., Thacker, T., & Bell, J. (2007).  From At-Risk to Academic Excellence: What Successful Leaders Do.

International Alliance for Invitational Education(2010).

Strategic Planning to Improve the Graduation Rate

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.


Presentation Slides pdf.

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (2009).  A Planned Approach to Increase Graduation Rates: The Integration of a Dropout Early Warning System Into a Program Planning Process.

Drew, S. (2009).  A Systemic Approach for Dropout Prevention pdf.

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (2009).  Audio: Deb Dillon Gives a Brief Overview of Fargo’s Strategic Planning With PAR.

Fargo Strategic Dropout Prevention Plan pdf(2009).

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (1990).  Planning Effectively for Resource Collaboration pdf

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (2010). Program Assessment and Review (PAR).

Graduation and Collaboration Coaches: Working Effectively Together

  • Learn how Graduation and Collaboration Coaches have contributed to an increase in Georgia’s graduation rate.
  • Learn about the roles of these Graduation and Collaboration Coaches.

This radio webcast will address a framework for dropout prevention that has been effective in Georgia-the state’s Graduation Coach program provides early intervention services to students at risk for dropping out of school. The state’s graduation rate has increased from 72.3% in 2007 to 75.4% in 2008 – a record high for Georgia. This 3.1% rate increase represents 8,277 additional graduates for the 2007-2008 school year. Additionally, the state’s dropout rate decreased from 4.1% to 3.7%. Georgia also funds Collaboration Coaches to assist middle and high schools in developing supports for students with disabilities. Schools implement strategies for engaging students academically and behaviorally as well as focusing on affective needs.


Presentation Slides  pdf

Aligning Dropout Prevention Initiatives pdf.

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (2009).  Audio: Allen Fort and Jessica Broome of the Georgia Department of Education talk about the Graduation Coaches Initiative

Closing the Expectations Gap 2009 pdf(2009).   Washington, DC : Achieve.

Georgia Graduation Coach Initiative: 2007-2008 Report  pdf(2008).   Georgia Department of Education.

Graduation Coach Initiative Brochure pdf.


Building Authentic Relationships with Youth At Risk

Authentic relationships between students and educators are important in the process of learning. Building these relationships with disengaged or “at-risk” students can be difficult at best. This webcast presents an overview of an approach to building authentic relationships based on the experience, insights and educational background of the presenter.

Gayle McGrane is a principal at two schools in Forest Lake, MN, one being an alternative secondary school. As well as being an educational, Ms McGrane is a clinical social worker, and approaches building relationships with students from her background in social work. Building trust as a means to building relationships is presented as the base of this approach. The theory behind it and the five essential strategies to building trust are also presented.


Presentation Slides pdf.

40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents pdf(2006).

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory pdf(2009).

McGrane, G. (2010). Building Authentic Relationships with Youth At RiskEffective Strategies. Clemson, SC : National Dropout Prevention Center/Network.

McGrane, G. (2011).  Building Authentic Relationships With Youth At Risk. Professional Development Series.

Benard, B. (1991).  Fostering Resiliency in Kids:Protective Factors in the Family, School, and Community pdf.

National Storytelling Network.

School Climate and Learning pdf(2004).  Best Practice Briefs

The Comer School Development Program(2010).

The Search Institute(2010).

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (2009).  Video: Building Relationships Through Storytelling in Action.

McGrane, G. (2010).  Who Am I? pdfIn  Building Authentic Relationships with Youth at Risk. Clemson, SC : National Dropout Prevention Center/Network.

School Climate Through Students’ Eyes

Dr. William Preble and some of his student leaders will share the work that they have been doing to improve school climate and learning. They will show the importance of inviting disengaged students to serve as school climate experts and school leaders in the SafeMeasures School Climate Improvement Process. They will also share examples of the kinds of data that schools are collecting to better understand and address school climate issues. The broadcast will conclude with effective programs and strategies that are being used to improve school climate in schools throughout the country.


Presentation Slides pdf.

2009-2010 SafeMeasures Action Research Process pdf(2009).

High School Student Data Summary pdf.

MainStreet Academix(2010).

National School Climate Center. (2010).

Respect Continuum Model pdf(2008).

MainStreet Academix SafeMeasures Student-Led Collaborative Action Research Program. (2010).

Preble, B., & Taylor, L. (2009).  School Climate Through Student Eyes pdfEducational Leadership, 66, 35-40.

Student Leadership Self-Assesment(2004).

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: What Does PBIS Have to Do With Prevention?

Establishing an effective positive schoolwide climate or culture is an important element of a successful prevention effort. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is one prevention approach that emphasizes the adoption and implementation of evidence-based behavioral interventions to establish a positive school culture and enhance academic and social success for all students. In this webcast, the practices and systems of PBIS will be described and discussed. The emphasis will be how PBIS can support all students to improve school culture, reduce problem behavior, support academic achievement, and promote school and classroom engagement.


Presentation Slides  pdf

Center on Behavioral Education and Research at UConn(2011).

Simonsen, B., Fairbanks, S., Briesch, A., Myers, D., & Sugai, G. (2008).  Evidence-based Practices in Classroom Management: Considerations for Research to Practice pdfEducation and Treatment of Children, 31(3), 351-380.

Horner, R. H., Sugai, G., & Anderson, C. M. (2011).  Examining the Evidence Base for School-Wide Positive Behavior SupportFocus on Exceptional Children, 42(8), 1-14.

Illinois State Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports(2011).

Maryland State Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports(2011).

OSEP Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports(2011).

OSEP Center on State Implementation and Scaling-up of Evidence-Based Practices(2011).

Malloy, J. M., & Hawkins, M. O. (Eds.). (2010).  Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and Dropout PreventionEffective Strategies.

Fairbanks, S., Sugai, G., Guardino, D., & Lathrop, M. (2007).  Response to Intervention: Examining Classroom Behavior Support in Second Grade pdfExceptional Children, 73(3), 288-310.

Sugai, G., & Horner, R. H. (2009).  Responsive-to-Intervention and School-Wide Positive Behavior Supports: Integration of Multi-Tiered System Approaches pdfIn Exceptionality (pp. 223-237).Routledge.

School-Wide Information System at the University of Oregon(2011).

Sugai, G. (2009).  School-Wide Positive Support and Response to Intervention pdf

Public Schools at the Crossroads: Addressing the Dropout Challenge in Rural America

Many communities in rural America are in major transition as leaders confront the realities of significant social, cultural, and economic shifts. Today, public schools are at a crossroads as they try to offer a modern education in the face of dwindling resources, changing school populations, and increasing accountability demands. With more than 12 million students enrolled in public schools in rural America, addressing the dropout challenge is vital to the future of students, their families, and rural communities. How do public schools and community leaders form meaningful partnerships to implement solutions to the dropout challenge — particularly when changing times raise the issue to crisis proportions?

“Public Schools at the Crossroads: Addressing the Dropout Challenge in Rural America” will focus on:

  • Where the rural dropout problem is most prominent in the U.S., and why there are high concentrations of dropouts in certain rural areas;
  • What risk factors fuel dropping out of school in rural areas; and
  • How partnerships can help confront challenges for implementing promising dropout practices in rural areas.


National Dropout Prevention Center/Network

Association of Educational Service Agencies

National Rural Education Association

The Rural School and Community Trust

Atlas of Rural and Small Town America

Alliance for Excellent Education. (2010). Current challenges and opportunities in preparing rural high school students for success in college and careers: What federal policymakers need to know. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from  pdf

Carr, P. J., & Kefalas, M. J. (2009). Hollowing out the middle: The rural brain drain and what it means for America. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Chappell, S. L., O’Connor, P., Withington, C., & Stegelin, D. A. (2015, April). A meta-analysis of dropout prevention outcomes and strategies (A Technical Report in Collaboration with The Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion University). Clemson, SC: National Dropout Prevention Center/Network at Clemson University.

Epstein, J. L. (2011). School, family, and community partnerships: preparing educators and improving schools (2nd ed.) Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Ferguson, C. (2008). The school-family connection: Looking at the larger picture. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

Howley, C., & Porpwski, A. (2013, September 30). Reducing the rural dropout rate. The Daily Yonder.

Jordan, J. L., Kostandini, G., & Mykerezi, E. (2012). Rural and urban high school dropout rates: Are they different? Journal of Research in Rural Education, 27(12), 1-21.

McCaul. E. (1989). Rural public school dropouts: Findings from high school and beyond. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 6(1), 19-23  pdf

McGranahan, D. (2015 – July). Understanding the geography of growth in rural child poverty. Amber Waves. – .Vb_Nv86QcmY. (2015).

McGranahan, D. A. (2004). The persistence of county high school dropout rates in the rural South, 1970-2000. Review of Regional Studies, 34(3), 288-302.

Rumberger, R. W. (2011). Dropping out: Why students drop out of high school and what can be done about it. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Smink, J., & Reimer, M. (2009). Rural school dropout issues: Implications for dropout prevention, strategies and programs. Clemson, SC: Clemson University, National Dropout Prevention Center/Network.

Stephens, E. R. (1999). Expanding the vision: New roles for educational service agencies in rural school district improvement. Charleston, WV: AEL, Inc., The Rural Center.

Tombari, M., Andrews, A., Gallinati, T, & Seeley, K. (2009, October). School dropouts in rural Colorado school districts. Pueblo, CO: National Center for Student Engagement.

Wilcox, K. C., Angelis, J. I., Baker, L., & Lawson, H. A. (2014). The value of people, place and possibilities: A multiple case study of rural high school completion. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 29(9), 1-18.

Wuthnow, R. (2013). Small-town America: Finding community, shaping the future. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

The Role of the Principal in Dropout Prevention

Tune in for the first radio Webcast produced by Clemson Radio Productions in partnership with the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network at Clemson University. This live radio call-in program, broadcast over the Internet, is an opportunity for you to learn from and ask questions of a national expert in dropout prevention solutions.

Dr. Steven W. Edwards will discuss the Seven Key Principles that will provide principals with low-cost yet effective ways to encourage all students to stay in school. Based on his latest publication, The Role of the Principal in Dropout Prevention: Seven Key Principles, the live discussion will center on solutions that can be implemented immediately. While focused on the principal’s role, the program will hold interest for teachers, parents, and community members.


Presentation Slides pdf.

Kronick, R. F. (1997).  At-Risk Youth: Theory, Practice, Reform.

University of Minnesota College of Education (2010).  Check and Connect.

National Education Association. (2008).

The National High School Center(2010).

Edwards, S., & Edwards, R. (2007).  The Principal’s Role in Dropout Prevention: Seven Key PrinciplesEffective Strategies.

U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (2008).  What Works Clearinghouse: Dropout Prevention. (2008).


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