- Advancing the "Colorado Graduates" Agenda: Understanding the Dropout Problem and Mobilizing to Meet the Graduation Challenge (PDF)
- School Dropouts in Rural Colorado School Districts (PDF)
- “Girls Tend to Stop Going; Boys Get Told Not to Come Back”: A Report on Gender and the Dropout Problem in Colorado Schools (PDF)
Short-Term Work (2008-2009)
- Johns Hopkins University begins analysis of partner districts (the five school districts in Colorado that have some of the highest raw number of dropouts, including: Adams 12, Aurora, Denver, Jefferson County, and Pueblo);
- Begin a design and innovation phase using the Hopkins analysis and recommendations to develop school and district action plans. Explore immediate changes in policy and practice in these districts. Share these initial outcomes with other district and community leaders to expand the number of districts engaged in such self-study activity;
- In collaboration with CDE, the National Center for School Engagement initiates a companion rural study of roughly 90 rural school districts in Colorado; and
- Provide 2-3 networking opportunities to district and school leaders interested in pursuing best practices to improve graduation rates.
- February 13, 2009, the Office of Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. and the CGI co-hosted a Policy Forum for the five currently participating school districts for the purpose of sharing initial research results, action planning and inform state policy efforts.
- June 2009, the Office of Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. and the CGI co-hosted the second annual Colorado Graduates Summit for the purposes of (a) sharing initial results of Hopkins research in the five urban districts, (b) continuing development of a state plan to reduce dropouts, and (c) soliciting interest by additional school districts in participating in the CGI.
- October 2009, Office of Governor Bill Ritter, Jr, America’s Promise, and the CGI hosted a dropout summit for school district leaders for purposes of (a) sharing final results of the Hopkins study (b) sharing the results of the rural district and gender focused dropouts studies (c) and identifying important state level policies that will positively affect change in this area through the new state Office of Dropout Prevention and Recovery and through the Race to the Top application.
- Inform the Race to the Top state grant application as well as apply for the Innovation and What Works federal grant to expand the promising practices research from Johns Hopkins and to implement comprehensive district action plans.
- Advocate for structural changes in state law and rule, and local policy and practice, to meaningfully impact students’ success in school. So far, this has included: statutory and regulatory changes that produce more accurate high school graduation and completion rates; standardized reporting of individual student truancy rates; added state funding to help students avoid expulsions; and required research-based dropout prevention planning assessments of dropout-related practices by high-risk school districts.
- Inform the Colorado Department Education’s (CDE’s) implementation of new programs and activities, such as the recently launched Counselor’s Corps. These efforts to shape programs are intended to encourage districts seeking funding or launching programs to examine their own policies and practices, and to plan and implement systemic reforms and practices to improve graduation rates;
- Following the passage of the CAP4K legislation, provide input into the state’s deliberations about setting standards and developing or choosing an assessment system that is more likely to help students transition from secondary schools into post-secondary education and the workforce;
- Develop a long-term vision and benchmarks for what must occur if the state is to make real progress toward the Governor’s goals of halving the dropout rate and doubling the number of credentials awarded in the state; and
- Identify and pursue other policy changes that national-level research indicates should be in place to support dropout reduction efforts.
Long-Term Work (2-10 years)
- Evaluate implemented recommendations and determine policy and practice changes at both the district and state level. Determine if work can be “scaled up.”
- Provide similar implementation support with rural districts.
- Continue to support networking and learning opportunities to influence policy and practice and to allow districts to learn from their peers facing similar challenges.
- Develop a policy agenda based on the analysis of Colorado districts’ and nationwide best practice. Possible issues and activities at the state-level include:
- Use data from the state’s new definition, recording, and reporting of student truancy to inform the state’s accountability or reporting system;
- Find incentives and support structures that help, encourage, or direct districts and schools to adopt the best practices identified by the CGI research;
- Conduct an evaluation of the Initiative and its local implementation efforts; and
- Commission studies and reports that deepen public and policymaker understanding of the options and urgency of decreasing the dropout rate and increasing the number of kids who complete high school and are adequately prepared to succeed in further studies and in life.