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March 31, 2011
EVERY CHILD A GRADUATE: Alabama Department of Education’s Dropout Prevention Awareness Campaign Kicks Off

Montgomery, Ala. — An effort to graduate every student in Alabama’s public schools is the focus of a new campaign by the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). “Every Child a Graduate,” the Dropout Prevention Awareness Campaign, includes the work of several community, legislative and educational supports. This wraparound support system comprised of the ALSDE and local school systems, the Alabama Select Commission on High School Graduation and Student Dropouts, America’s Promise Alliance, The David C. Matthews Center for Civic Life and The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation  is working collaboratively to identify at-risk students, offer programs or services, and encourage school personnel, parents and community leaders to help reverse the trend of dropouts in  our state.


“Ensuring that every child becomes a high school graduate is a central objective of the Alabama State Board of Education. Working through the Alabama Department of Education, there is a dedication to creating innovative, yet rigorous programs that help our diverse student population to accomplish the goal of graduation,” said Dr. Joe Morton, State Superintendent of Education.


The Dropout Prevention Awareness Campaign originated with a state law enacted in 2009, the Dropout Prevention Act of 2009:564.  Designed to keep students in school, the core of this act is a change of the mandatory attendance age to 17. The law also instituted a “student exit interview” that all students who desire to leave school and their parents must complete. This process requires a meeting with a team of student advocates to share alternatives to dropping out that could provide an opportunity for a student to stay in school and graduate.


In 2010, Alabama received  national recognition in a report from America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises and Johns Hopkins University’s Everyone Graduates Center. The report, Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, showed Alabama battling the dropout crisis in many ways. Alabama ranked 4th from the top in gains to statewide graduation rates between 2002 and 2008. The Alabama graduation rate increased from 62.1 percent in 2002 to 69.0 percent in 2008, a 6.9 percent increase – triple the nationwide increase.

To further this success, “Every Child a Graduate,” the Dropout Prevention Awareness Campaign, begins with Governor Robert Bentley’s March 25th proclamation signing, naming April 2011 the kickoff for the campaign. Throughout the month of April, there will be several events to showcase the efforts of the ALSDE and its partners in battling the dropout crisis.


·         On April 14, immediately following the K-12 State Board of Education meeting, a press conference will be held to introduce the people and programs that will support the Dropout Prevention Awareness Campaign.

·         On April 15, middle school teachers will show 6th grade students around the state the “InsideOut” DVD created by the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation. This powerful documentary shows life inside the Alabama prison system, regrettably populated by a majority of high school dropouts.

·         On April 28, the ALSDE will unveil a new system, the Alabama Graduation Tracking System, which will help to track a student’s ABCs - attendance, behavior and course credit. Tracking these indicators of student behavior will help to alert administrators and can help recognize students at risk for dropping out.

·         Throughout the coming months, “What Should We Do” Community Forums hosted by the David C. Matthews Center for Civic Life will be held around the state. For a complete list of future forums, please visit http://mathewscenter.org/events/. Over 600 participants have attended previous forums in over 21 communities across the state.


ALSDE has implemented several proactive measures to end dropouts in Alabama schools. FIRST Choice is a multi-faceted program that offers academic flexibility and varying diploma options. Under FIRST Choice, all students are automatically on track to earn the Advanced Academic Endorsement of the Alabama High School Diploma. This encourages students to challenge themselves and take more math and foreign language classes during high school.


Programs such as Credit Recovery, Academic Flexibility and Graduation Coaches address the needs of students to help to ensure graduation and guide them through the process efficiently. Credit Recovery allows students to demonstrate competency on a segment of the course and receive course credit or earn promotion without having to retake the entire course. Academic Flexibility gives students in-school and out-of-school educational opportunities to make up time lost in the classroom due to extenuating circumstances.


Graduation Coaches serve as mentors for “at-risk” students, advising them on innovative pathways for coursework and other behavioral, social and emotional issues to keep them on task which ultimately increases their odds for graduation.


Dr. Tommy Bice, Deputy State Superintendent, said, “We are continually looking at our existing policies to determine if they are supportive of keeping students engaged and in school. We are looking at revising or creating new policies that produce opportunities for schools and school systems to craft learning environments that support the individual needs of all students.”


An innovative class, Teen Parent Help, is a component of the ALSDE’s effort to end dropouts. The class offers training and counseling to deal with the pressures of teen parenthood and a changing world.  Also, a new state initiative to address truancy problems in collaboration with the judicial system is in development. This initiative will mobilize 220 facilitators for the Parent Project, a juvenile diversion program around the state to assist the courts with conquering the number one indicator for dropout prevention: truancy.


For more information on the ALSDE’s dropout prevention efforts, please contact Dr. Kay Warfield in the Prevention and Support Services section at 334-242-8165.




For more information, visit:  http://www.alsde.edu/