Graduation Rate & At-Risk Students: Overview


Team Leader: Dr. Bill Roach, Assistant Superintendent of Administration

"School climate sets the tone for all the learning and teaching done in the school environment and predicts a student's ability to learn and develop in healthy ways." - The National School Climate Center

The School District of Pickens County holds the same belief as Bill Daggett that "culture trumps strategy." Along with this belief also comes the big three focuses of our district: Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships. With this focus it is imperative that with at-risk students we need to start with relationships and relevance. The motivation in and of itself to attain a high school diploma is not enough to motivate most students, especially at-risk students. We must provide a relevance for their learning and build relationships with students to help guide them through the many difficult times they will face. 

Each school should work to identify students who are in danger of being at-risk. This can be done with the district's at-risk checklist, a school generated document, MAP data, academic performance, etc. These documents will help teachers and administrators determine if a student is at-risk of not being successful academically. However, we must realize that determining if a student is at-risk should be based on more than one piece of data. We must look at the whole child to make that determination and to truly have a positive impact on that student. Once this is determined the school should:

  • Provide a mentor for the student. This is not a formal mentoring program, but someone in the building who can help relate to the student. Research shows that if a student can connect with at least one adult in the building they do better academically. We are already doing this in some schools with programs like: Call Me Mister, Graduation Coaches, Club One, Advisory Groups, etc.
  • Develop an action plan along with the parents/guardians with interventions and a timeline. Within this plan schools should use resources such as Reading Recovery, LLI groups, RTI, SIT (MTSS). This plan should be monitored monthly and updated at the beginning of each year to ensure students are on track for graduation.