America’s Promise Alliance (America’s Promise) has updated the Grad Nation Community Guidebook, a research-based toolkit for communities working to raise graduation rates and better support children and youth from birth through college. Created in collaboration with Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, the Community Guidebook offers approaches and tools that all communities—regardless of their size, location and challenges—can incorporate at any stage in their work.
The Community Guidebook is part of the Grad Nation campaign, a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations, and communities working together to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and return the U.S. to first in the world in college completion. It is authored by Robert Balfanz and Joanna Hornig Fox from the Everyone Graduates Center and by John M. Bridgeland and Mary Bruce of Civic Enterprises with support from AT&T. It adds to existing sources of knowledge and information on the high school dropout crisis, such as the annual Building a Grad Nation report and the Building a Grad Nation Summit.
”The nation’s progress rests with how well communities are doing at providing productive opportunities and support for children and young people,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance.
“The Grad Nation Community Guidebook compiles the best thinking and proven tools to strengthen efforts to raise graduation rates, whether a community is deeply engaged in the issue already or just getting started.”
The Community Guidebook compiles current research and outlines proven solutions and best practices including school and community interventions, for raising graduation rates. It provides a comprehensive framework to help communities design local dropout prevention efforts. It contains 16 tools to help communities determine their actual graduation rate and dropout profile, establish an early warning system and attendance tracker, analyze student and school performance and conduct an assessment of individual and organizational assets and the current policy landscape.
“This Community Guidebook is the go-to resource for communities seeking to energize individuals, businesses and community partners to rally around students who are at risk of dropping out of high school,” said Charlene Lake, AT&T senior vice president for Public Affairs and chief sustainability officer.
“AT&T is pleased to join with America’s Promise and hundreds of Grad Nation partners to support inventive tools like this that help move us closer to ending the dropout crisis.”
The Community Guidebook also addresses other important issues such as education reform, school transformation, Common Core State Standards, multiple pathways to graduation and offering a challenging curriculum that recognizes the needs of a knowledge-based economy, as well as the importance of quality out-of-school opportunities, social-emotional learning and soft skills development. It also provides communities with a blueprint on how to engage youth as part of the solution and develop their own “Dropout Prevention and Graduation Improvement Team” and “Community Graduation Compact” as guideposts for building and tracking their progress.
“This has been the most widely used Grad Nation tool since we launched the campaign. The updated, online version is now accessible to every educator, community member, and parent across the country, which will help schools and communities address their dropout challenges,” said John Bridgeland, Community Guidebook co-author and CEO of Civic Enterprises.
The Community Guidebook is free and available at guidebook.americaspromise.org with ready-to-print tools and links to other online resources. It will be featured at the upcoming Grad Nation Community Summits, a series of community level events that will bring together leaders from all sectors to examine local data, identify what’s working and where there are challenges and explore promising practices and proven solutions to support young people in and out of school. With AT&T’s support, 100 Grad Nation Community Summits will be held over the next several years with the first 15 in late 2013. Confirmed first-round Summit locations include: Birmingham, AL; Jackson, MS; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Providence, RI; Toledo, OH and Tucson, AZ.
The 2013 Building a Grad Nation report found that for the first time the nation is on track to meet the goal of 90 percent national graduation rate by the class of 2020. The report found the national high school graduation rate increased 6.5 percentage points since 2001 with an average growth of 1.25 percentage points each year from 2006-2010 to 78.2 percent.