For several years, high school counsellors and administration observed that many of the dropouts fell behind in their credits due to various hardships. Interventions such as credit recovery, after-school tutoring program, and tutoring with assigned teachers during the school day often were not enough to support the most at-risk students.
They often became discouraged and dropped out because they saw no way that they could graduate from high school in four or even five years. The Alternative Graduation Pathway was developed to better support these students and ensure they reach graduation within their cohort.
They noted that many of these students also had extenuating life circumstances that often contributed to academic difficulties. The counselling team and administration began to develop an Alternative Graduation Pathway.
“I am currently the school counsellor for all 12th grade students and half of the 11th grade students. During the summer, analyse the transcripts of third-year high school students who are behind on credits. If the Alternative Graduation Pathway is a possibility, the student and parent are contacted in August to discuss the pathway and decide if this is an appropriate option for the individual student.
As a team, we then begin the process to complete the needed paperwork. The student is required to write a narrative explaining why he/she should be approved for the Alternative Graduation Pathway. I explain to the student to only share information they are comfortable with sharing.
Once I receive the student’s narrative, I write a narrative about the student to explain the demonstrated hardships that make the student a good candidate for the Alternative Graduation Pathway.
A completed packet includes the followings: terms of agreement form, contract, counsellor narrative, student narrative, analysis of completion of state graduation requirements, current grades and attendance, entire year schedule and high school transcript that includes attendance information since elementary school.
Once the packet is complete, I set up the committee meeting which includes the student and parent. I conduct the meeting and share the packet of information with the committee. If all agree, the signed paperwork is sent to the Superintendent for final approval. Upon receiving approved paperwork from the Superintendent, the student is moved to senior status.
I continue to monitor the student’s attendance and grades and meet with the student personally, as needed. I also depend on the teachers to alert me if there are any issues with the students.”
Context of good practice
The Roanoke Rapids Graded School District is composed of two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school in rural North Carolina and is one of three school districts in Halifax County.
Halifax County is ranked among the most economically distressed counties in North Carolina. The population of Halifax County is around 55,000 with about 16,000 in Roanoke Rapids.
Roanoke Rapids High School is a public high school for students who live in the school district.
- The students who are approved for the Alternative Graduation Pathway are some of our most at-risk and time-consuming students. Their approval for this pathway is not a “magic wand” that fixes their challenges.
- As more at-risk students are identified, an additional student support position dedicated to these students will be necessary to continue to provide intense interventions.
- We have added an Alternative Graduation Pathway Contract to the paperwork that must be completed during the initial meeting.
- The student and parent sign this contract and it states the specific conditions that must be met. It also includes the statement that the approval for the Alternative Graduation Pathway may be revoked at any time, if the specific conditions are not met.
- The specific conditions include a list of classes in which student must receive credit; regular attendance; active participation in classes; tutorials as required and/or needed; and no discipline referrals.
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