Posted Date: 01/07/2020
Chanute Public Schools is being recognized by the state Dept. of Education for having exceeded the gold standard for graduation rate in the Kansans Can Star Recognition Program.
To be eligible for the award, school district’s graduation rates needed to be above the state average of 89.9 percent. The highest award, the gold star, is reserved for districts with graduation rates of 95 percent or more over the last four years.
The award was announced to USD 413 teachers and staff at its professional development day Friday, Jan. 3.
“This is a body of work” spanning the efforts of staff members across the district, said Superintendent Kellen Adams. Preparing for high school graduation starts when children are three- and four-years-old, before they go to school.
Chanute Elementary School has focused on the importance of being in school with an Attendance Race among classes, where students earn rewards and t-shirts for perfect attendance on a monthly basis.
Communities in Schools of Mid-America at SEK moved site coordinators into the high school and elementary school five years ago with its mission to surround students with “a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.”
On a national level, the CIS program model has “resulted in the strongest reduction in dropout rates of any dropout prevention program that has been evaluated.”
In Chanute, the site coordinators continually work with students individually; plan tutoring and financial literacy programs; assist with clothing, transportation and nutritional needs; and partner with agencies that provide dental and mental health services within the school setting.
At CHS, Principal Brian Campbell said there is a team of individuals who meet once a month and identify students who are at risk and monitor their progress to see if there needs to be additional intervention.
The school has offered alternative credits for non-traditional classes, assisted with transportation, Saturday school, contacting parents on a daily basis and “doing whatever we can within the legal limits to get kids to stay in school and graduate,’ Campbell said.
Graduation rate was one of several areas that Kansas residents identified as being critical for student success during a tour of the state’s counties by the KSDE Commissioner in 2015.
Using data and citizen input, the state department determined that “to give students the best possible chance for success, Kansas schools must not only increase the number of students graduating high school, but increase the number of students graduating with the skills and attributes needed to be successful.”
The KSDE website states that the percent of jobs requiring only a high school diploma is at 29 percent, and determined that “for Kansans to lead the world in the success of each student, it must increase its high school graduation rate to 95 percent.”
Chanute Public Schools has accomplished that, but the effort won’t end there.
“We want to set students up for success and a diploma is just the first step,” Campbell said. “I know that postsecondary success is becoming a priority and we are taking steps to improve those numbers as well.”
Postsecondary effectiveness, graduation preparedness, and a commissioner’s award for districts that outperform their postsecondary effectiveness are the three other categories that KSDE is recognizing this year with Star Awards.
Beginning in 2020, the remaining categories that Kansas residents identified as those they value will be recognized. Those Star Awards will be for students’ social-emotional growth, kindergarten readiness, and individual plans of study.