Arizona PBS sees new opportunities As President Obama signs new Every Student Succeeds Act

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american graduatePHOENIX – (Dec. 10, 2015)
On Dec. 10, 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.

Arizona PBS is a committed partner of American Graduate, a local/national public media initiative to catalyze discussion and illuminate community-based solutions to the dropout crisis.

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.

Leaders of the national American Graduate program see 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 non-academic needs – that can help at-risk students succeed.

“American Graduate has provided opportunities to strengthen and build community partnerships with schools, districts, non-profit organizations and agencies locally and nationally across the PBS system. Here in Arizona this initiative has allowed us to shine a light on local success at each of those levels and convene partners to explore solutions and reach out to under-served populations,” said Arizona PBS General Manager Kelly McCullough.

According to the latest research from America’s Promise Alliance, 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, Arizona PBS airs American Graduate programming designed to raise awareness of the drop-out crisis, explain strategies to increase student success rates and highlight local organizations that are working to keep students on the path to graduation and college, including United Way, YMCA, Reading Is Fundamental, Save the Children and others.

“It is invaluable to set high expectations for all students,” said Kimberly Flack, Arizona PBS associate general manager of educational outreach. “The most current research shows that students are most successful when they have at least one consistent, caring adult in their lives – who could be a parent, teacher or mentor. This has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of students dropping out of school. Part of our community work around American Graduate has been to help foster this and raise awareness.”

Additional local initiatives in the Arizona PBS implementation of American Graduate include:

    – Early literacy workshops for families
    – Professional development for educators
    – PBS LearningMedia online classroom and home school educator resources
    – First Things First scholarships for early childhood educators
    – PBS KIDS children’s programming on-air along with online educational games and other resources
    – American Graduate special programming on the Arizona PBS public affairs programs “Arizona Horizon”
    and “Horizonte,” featuring interviews and panel discussions with educators, policy makers and non-profits
    involved in education issues.

Arizona PBS and the American Graduate Initiative will continue to pursue the shared mission of developing and implementing effective educational strategies aimed at increasing graduation rates in Arizona.

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