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Critical Elements to Improving Graduation



The message from families, teachers, communities, and school administrators and staff provides clear direction for the work of education.  
  • We need to raise overall graduation rates
  • We need to reduce the opportunity gaps which cause many student groups to graduate at a lower rate
  • We need to make sure students are graduating with the skills they need for college and a career
The good news is that through our collective efforts over the last few years — ODE, school district leaders, staff and communities working together — the number of students earning a high school diploma has been increasing. Although we still have an achievement gap, we have examples of districts using best practices that result in impressive gains, especially with historically underserved students. You can read more about this in the graduation brief our research staff released with the graduation rate data.
Our future workforce and the health of our communities and state depend on our success. But more than that, we have a duty and a moral imperative to our students to give them the tools for success they will use throughout their lives.  Here you will find 8 critical elements to improving graduation outcomes and examples of successful strategies being used around the state.




Children can achieve well in school and life when they feel supported and family, friends, teachers, school staff take an active interest in their well-being. Simple actions can sometimes have large payoffs; a consistent hello, a call home to praise a student’s performance on a project, the connection of a student to needed services, and making time to listen. All these seemingly minor interactions add up to a sense of belonging and safety in school.  All adults working with our children and youth can think about each interaction they have with students as a stepping stone towards success.

Traditionally students and families have had to fit into existing school systems. There has been a shift to having our education systems fit our students. Building strong equitable systems that support individual learning and growth will lead to improved graduation rates.

Engagement involves a sense of relevance, ownership, interest, and delight.  Students want educational experiences that have value for them in their current and future lives.  They want to have a voice in their educational experience and need to have ownership of their educational path and outcomes. For community, family, student, staff and other partners, engagement is about having a voice at the table that is respected, valued and heard.  Engagement is foundational to creating successful educational outcomes. 
Successfully supporting all students to graduate depends upon strong partnerships between educators, parents, businesses, community organizations, social service providers and communities-at-large.  Find out more about what you can do to improve graduation.








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