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SAISD Receives $14 Million Grant to Expand Dropout Prevention Program

News Release

SAISD Receives $14 Million Grant to Expand Dropout Prevention Program

October 4, 2010 – The San Antonio Independent School District’s Middle School Partners program has been awarded a $14 million, five-year grant to help meet the District’s goal of graduating all students on time. SAISD will receive $2,842,810 for the 2010-11 school year, with additional funding coming annually. SAISD is the only District in Texas to receive the grant from the U.S. Department of Education, which awarded 29 grants under the High School Graduation Initiative Program to help improve academic performance and support dropout prevention.

SAISD will utilize the grant to expand a Middle School Partners program the District piloted last year, targeting eighth-grade students who have been retained at least one grade. Under the program, students earn eighth-grade and high school credits at the same time, to enable them to bypass their freshman year and enter high school as sophomores and graduate with their peers.

“This program empowers students to get back on track to complete high school and graduate on time,” said Superintendent Robert J. Durón. “The incentive of catching up with their peers is the encouragement many of these students need to succeed in school.”

The innovative program was piloted at two middle schools in January of 2010, enabling 38 students to enter high school this year with credits. The program was expanded to four middle schools this school year, and can now be expanded to all 14 middle schools under the grant.  SAISD plans to enroll 400 to 450 students in the program every year for the next five years, assisting more than 2,000 students to catch up with their peers in school.

“Too many of our young people give up in middle school, but every student is worth saving,” said Mayor Julian Castro. “This is an innovative approach to addressing San Antonio’s dropout rate.”

Students in the program work a half day on eighth-grade core subjects and the remainder of the day on high school courses on-line. The program also requires students to attend classes for several weeks during the summer to ensure that they earn credits and reach their goal.

The grant funds will be used to provide teachers, classroom computer equipment, licensing/software for on-line courses, student visits to high schools and colleges, and a mentoring program through Communities in Schools. Under the mentoring program, a mentor will be assigned to each student to work together from the eighth grade through high school graduation.

In recent years SAISD has launched a number of comprehensive initiatives to improve the number of students who continue their education through to graduation. Efforts include Campus Leaver Teams at each high school working to identify at-risk students and make weekly calls and visits, as well as the Cooper Academy, where more than 140 students have returned and graduated over the past two years.

The U.S. Department of Education’s High School Graduation Initiative supports activities such as early warning systems designed to identify students at risk of dropping out, rigorous academic programs and support services to engage students and implement dropout prevention, credit recovery programs, and targeted re-engagement programs that identify out-of-school youth and encourage them to reenter school.

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