graduates throwing caps into air
Inside the Classroom

One High School’s Success with Increasing Graduation Rates

Helping students, especially juniors and seniors, recover credits so they can graduate on time and learn the skills and concepts they need to be successful in college can be difficult. Jason Dandurand, principal at Roxana High School in Illinois, was faced with this challenge a couple years ago. They were looking for a rigorous and flexible program that would enable administrators to design credit recovery options to make students more accountable for their education, and started using Edgenuity’s® online courses. After a successful first semester with it, they incorporated the credit recovery courses into their summer school program as well, and ended up increasing graduation rates, along with credits earned. How’d they do it? Jason tells us what worked for them.

Where Learning Clicks: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your role?

Jason Dandurand: I’m the principal at Roxana High School. We have a great little community in Roxana. It’s a hard-working, blue-collar town in the industrial belt, just outside of the St. Louis metro area. We have about 550 students, and about 60–70% of them qualify for the free-and-reduced-lunch program. I’m fortunate and blessed to be surrounded by a tremendously talented administrative team and a dedicated and passionate faculty.

WLC: What are some of the challenges you deal with as Roxana’s principal?

Jason: We have some attendance issues, and some kids who are behind in credit. One thing we’ve been trying to tackle in addition to these two things is our graduation rate. Upon arriving, I observed that we really had no clear plan as to how we addressed students in need of credit recovery. At my previous school, we had a county alternative/vocational school that used Edgenuity as an alternative education program. We were looking at implementing a program that could meet our needs here, and Edgenuity was a viable option for us to implement in order for students to recover credit. Other than summer school, we didn’t have a way for kids to do that, and some students were behind by more than one credit so they ran the risk of not graduating on time with their cohort. In some cases, students were at risk of dropping out altogether due to feeling so far behind.

We want students to be well-rounded and equipped to use technology and non-tech resources to support them in their learning in high school and beyond.

WLC: So what changes have you made to give students more opportunity to recover credits?

Jason: We didn’t have a high success rate with our old summer school system. We had poor attendance, and some students were dropping out and not earning credit. We learned that, “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten,” so we knew that if we wanted different results, we had to take a different approach. We implemented Edgenuity at Roxana in January 2017, and experienced success. It then became our new model for summer school as well as an option for students to recover credit throughout the school year.

Our goal was to get creative with it, so we charge kids for the class, but if they earn credit, they get a 100% reimbursement. This motivates both the student and the parent. If students don’t earn the credit over the summer, they have the opportunity to earn it during the school year, but they do not receive the reimbursement. The emphasis is still on their learning and recovering the much-needed credit.

We also run summer school sessions Monday through Thursday in the mornings and afternoons, and an optional session on Fridays. The big carrot for them is, if they come in to work on Friday, too, they could end summer school earlier and enjoy their summer vacation sooner. We had really high success rates in ELA and math, both of which were better than we’d ever seen before.

We’re flexible, and our program is working for all sorts of students. Parents have been supportive, and kids have been really motivated, so we’ve seen success. Success looks different for each student but ultimately, the endgame is to see students cross the stage and achieve their goal of graduation.

It’s all about seeing our students accomplish their academic endeavors culminating in the achievement of graduation.

WLC: What about during the school year? How do technology and the online courses fit into that?

Jason: We are fortunate enough to be a 1:1 school, so each of our high school students gets a MacBook. With that said, we take a blended approach. We want students to be well-rounded and equipped to use technology and non-tech resources to support them in their learning in high school and beyond.

We’re currently on a block schedule, which means classes meet every other day. We’ve had the flexibility to tailor the online courses to match our scheduling. A yearlong class only lasts 90 days for us, and a semester-long class 45 days, so we needed to adjust the courses to fit our schedule. With a change in the bell schedule this past fall, we again had the flexibility to make the necessary revisions to mirror our schedule with the online courses our students need to be enrolled in.

We’re always trying to find new and innovative ways to help students achieve their academic goals. Edgenuity has been instrumental and a tremendous resource in doing this. I’m really happy with its rigor and its ability to get our students to think critically. Ultimately for me as the building principal, it’s all about seeing our students accomplish their academic endeavors culminating in the achievement of graduation. Edgenuity has given us the opportunity to help some of our students do just that.

If you’re interested in learning more about increasing graduation rates, and building your own flexible and creative summer school, visit Edgenuity.com.

About the Author

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Where Learning Clicks

Since 1998, Edgenuity has been creating products and services that help all students achieve their full potential. As an extension of our efforts, we also produce Where Learning Clicks to share meaningful and timely ideas about trends, developments, and changes in education, as well as how to further incorporate technology into today’s classrooms.