The figures come from the Texas Education Agency. HISD Superintendent Terry Grier says researchers used three nationally recognized methods of analyzing data and they call came to the same conclusions.
“Data we received from the Texas Education Agency shows that HISD graduation rates have increase and the drop out rate has decreased for four years in a row.”
Test scores may not be what they’d like at all schools, but the numbers show more students are graduating and fewer of them are dropping out. Five years ago, 22 percent of the class of ’07 dropped out of school. This year, just 11 percent quit.
Grier says the credit needs to spread across the board.
“I think it’s a combination of a lot of strategies. I wouldn’t point to one and say this is the real reason or that’s the real reason. And I think you can see that they all collectively together are getting phenomenal results.”
He does point to the DRIP committees as a big factor in the drop out situation. DRIP stands for Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention.
“They meet on a weekly basis. They review every single student that drops out of school. Why that student dropped out. What they needed to be able to graduate. Many times these individuals are making home visits; they’re talking to parents; sometimes they’re talking to employers.”
“We have to convince students that life in Houston, Texas, without a high school diploma is not going to be much of a life at all.”
Each year the district holds an event where they go door-to-door and talk with dropouts and their families. Both former Mayor Bill White and current Mayor Annise Parker have gotten involved.
This year the district also re-wrote much of its curriculum and they believe that too will help students in the long run. They also established new literacy strategies.
Nancy Gregory, who is in charge of curriculum and development, believes making students write more is key.
“We want to make sure the kids are writing, not just in English and in reading, but they’re writing in science and they’re writing in their reading and math, and they’re writing in social studies, because we know that in those other content areas deep learning takes place when we have a reading/writing connection.”
Dr. Grier likes the new figures but says there’s still lots of hard work to be done.
“If Houston is going to maintain its status as a world economic power house, HISD must do our job of preparing tomorrow’s workforce. High school dropouts cannot thrive in this job market, or the job market of the future.”