High School Turnaround Initiative
Our first network of schools saw chronic absences reduced 25% within the first year.
Why it matters
Educational attainment is the biggest predictor of success for metropolitan communities. Raising the college attainment rate by 1 percentage point in the 51 largest metropolitan areas would lead to $124 billion in increased per capita income per year for the nation.1
In Greater Detroit, almost 22,000 students from the Class of 2009 dropped out of high school. Reducing this number by 50% could result in $145 million in increased earnings and $24 million in tax revenue.
High school dropouts in Michigan are seven times more likely to be living in poverty than those holding bachelor degrees. The costs of dropping out are born not just by individuals but by the communities in which they live. Dropouts from the class of 2008 will cost Michigan almost $12 billion in lost wages over their lifetimes.
Only one in 20 new jobs will be available for high school dropouts. Jobs for dropouts pay well below the average. High school graduates have more options, but still typically earn 78% of the average salary in Michigan.
What we're doing
In June 2008, our board of directors set a goal of turning around or shutting down 30 high schools in our region in which the senior class was less than 60% the size of the freshmen class for at least three consecutive years. We invited schools committed to achieving graduation rates of at least 80% for their incoming freshmen class to apply for a Turnaround Challenge. We are guided by a Theory of Change developed by Mass Insight, which includes four key elements:
- Gain public support for the belief that schools can achieve transformational change;
- Change conditions to ensure all schools have strong leaders with site-based, decision-making authority;
- Increase capacity by having schools choose an experienced turnaround partner to provide expertise in changing the culture, curriculum and instruction to create nurturing, personalized learning environments for all students;
- Cluster for support as a network with common goals and metrics, that meet regularly to share and learn best practices.
- Eighty percent of students in Greater Detroit will complete high school prepared for postsecondary study and a successful entry into the workforce
- All students in Greater Detroit will complete high school prepared for postsecondary study and a successful entry into the workforce