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LRSD program targets dropouts

Aim is to track down teens to get them on track to graduate by Rachel Herzog | August 27, 2020 at 3:25 a.m.
Charisse Dean, chairwoman of the Arkansas Board of Education, makes phone calls Wednesday at Park Plaza Mall in Little Rock, contacting students who stopped attending high school. A new partnership between the Little Rock School District and Graduation Alliance aims to get those students back on track to complete their schooling. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

The Little Rock School District is set to reach out to students who stopped attending school before earning their diplomas, in hopes of helping them find a path to complete their classes.

The district is contracting with Graduation Alliance, a national organization that works with school systems across the country to recover students. The program contacts students who did not graduate from the district and connects advocates with those who may need a modified schedule, access to technology or other resources.

Little Rock Superintendent Mike Poore said increasing the graduation rate is not only beneficial for the district, but also for the teenagers for whom a diploma means higher earning potential and more career opportunities.

“We’re trying to capture teens that may have fallen through the cracks,” Poore said Wednesday during a news conference. “We really truly want to try to find every possible approach that we can to bring kids across the finish line.”

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The effort kicked off with a phone bank Wednesday morning, where several community leaders helped make calls to students of whom the district had records of but did not graduate.

The program is pulling from a list of about 1,900 students who at one point were in the Little Rock system in the past five years but didn’t complete their courses, said Greg Harp, the chief development officer for Graduation Alliance.

Some of those phone numbers could lead callers to students who transferred and ended up graduating from a different school, Poore said. But he said if the effort reaches only a few students who have fallen through the cracks, it will have been worth it.

“You can’t lose,” Poore said. “If you get five kids back, it’s a win for those five kids.”

Poore said the district’s graduation numbers have ticked upward in the past few years.

Poore said anyone who knows of a teenager who isn’t on track to completing high school and would benefit from getting connected with resources can contact the district or the mayor’s office.

Little Rock School District Superintendent Mike Poore announces the new partnership Wednesday at Park Plaza Mall.
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)
Little Rock School District Superintendent Mike Poore announces the new partnership Wednesday at Park Plaza Mall. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

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