Every Student Succeeds

Posted by Nancy Rogan on


Last week President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, the first major national education overhaul since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.

This law is of great interest to us at WHRO Public Media. We have been working on these issues in our work on American Graduate, a local/national public media initiative to catalyze discussion and illuminate community-based solutions to the dropout crisis. If you are looking for local reactions to this new, landmark education policy, I can draw on a number of education experts in our community who have been active with American Graduate. Our producers also have great knowledge about the issues related to high school graduation.

One of the new features of the ESSA is that high schools must use graduation rates as one of several measures of progress. American Graduate local partners have assembled a large body of knowledge about how to enable more students to stay in school and graduate, especially in those schools and among demographic groups with chronically high dropout rates.

There is great value in the new legislation to enable schools, especially those struggling to deploy “integrated student supports,” which could include a broad array of social services – within and outside the school, for academic and for non-academic needs – that can help at-risk students succeed. 

In general, as we have worked on American Graduate we have found that there is no single silver bullet to boost graduation rates. Rather, communities need to provide multiple high-quality supports to students – what we might call a “silver buckshot” approach.

High on the list of successful interventions is the presence of supportive, caring adults who can help at-risk students navigate the many challenges they face to perform well and complete high school. For an example, WHRO’s American Graduate raises awareness of the challenges youth face on the path to graduation and rallies support for programs, such as mentorship, to make sure all youth are college and/or career ready.

Building on our expertise in public education, we’ve expanded our services and resources to help adults learn too.  WHRO’s SkillsOnline offers over 4,500 courses in 18industries that support job seekers preparing for a new position or training for career advancement.  In support of this, coming in 2016 are the first five of 24 Workplace Readiness modules that are designed to teach fundamental work skills that are valued by employers.  These free online teaching tools will be widely available to individuals, employers, community colleges and work investment boards to ensure potential employees have the basic skills to be successful in any workplace. 

I’d be delighted to connect you with WHRO leadership to talk further about the work of American Graduate as it relates to the new ESSA law.

Sally McConnell
Marketing Officer
WHRO Public Media
757-889-9400, ext. 107



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