Tuesday, February 21, 2017

OPI needs to step up on Graduation Matters

Letter to the editor
Graduation Matters in Hardin has helped increase our graduation rates and reduce dropout rates. These are good things. Eighty-five percent of our students are Native American. We started Graduation Matters in 2011. Since that time our teachers, administration, board, parents, community and students have helped emphasize and sustain the expectation that everyone can and will graduate from Hardin High School.
 
Support in the past provided by OPI has helped change the trajectory of graduation rates in our school. Valued assistance provided by OPI includes funding, strategies that identify at-risk students, and assistance in tracking a utilizing local data to create support that offer lifelines to our students. In the past, OPI has also served as a repository of successful strategies employed by schools in the state of Montana that are readily accessible to others seeking these proven methods.
 
Our graduation rates have increased from 60.9 percent upon inception of the Graduation Matters Program to 73.5 percent in 2016. Our dropout rates have decreased from 10.7 percent to 5.2 percent since our immersion in this program. Two years ago, our school was honored with the “Seventh Generation Award” by OPI, as our school had the greatest reduction in the dropout rate with our Native American students. This is significant.
 
We ask for continued support for Graduation Matters. Funding and supporting this program will help sustain the upward path of our students’ success. It is something our entire community rallies around. Successful students equal stronger communities, and therefore a stronger Montana.
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