Episode 1046 | New Mexico’s Graduation Rate Worst in the Nation


>>THE ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
REPORTED THIS WEEK THAT NEW MEXICO’S HIGH SCHOOL
GRADUATION RATE WAS THE LOWEST IN THE NATION IN A
RECENT REPORT. NOW, THE NUMBERS ARE FROM
2015 AND SOME PROGRESS MAY HAVE BEEN MADE IN 2016, BUT
THESE NUMBERS POINT TO A PERSISTENT PROBLEM IN OUR
STATE. BEFORE THE LINE REACTS TO
THE STORY, LET’S HEAR FROM SOMEONE WHO IS WORKING ON
THE ISSUE. OUR PRODUCER SARAH GUSTAVUS
SAT DOWN THIS WEEK WITH ANGELO GONZALES, THE
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MISSION GRADUATION.>>ANGELO, THANKS FOR
STOPPING BY THIS WEEK.>>HAPPY TO BE HERE.>>THIS NEW REPORT THAT
FOLKS ARE TALKING ABOUT, THE NUMBERS ARE FROM 2015. WHY IS THAT?>>THE DATA JUST LAGGED A
LITTLE BIT AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL, IN THE FACT THAT
STATES ARE ALL REPORTING UP. AND SO IT’S JUST THE NATURE
OF DATA COLLECTION AND REPORTING AT THE NATIONAL
LEVEL.>>WHAT DO WE KNOW, THOUGH,
ABOUT GRADUATION RATES LAST YEAR IN 2016?>>WE KNOW THAT IN THE STATE
OF NEW MEXICO, ABOUT 71% OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
GRADUATED WITHIN FOUR YEARS AS OF 2016. SO THAT’S A BIT OF AN
INCREASE FROM THE 2015 REPORT THAT WAS REPORTED
NATIONALLY.>>EVEN WITH THOSE NUMBERS,
THOUGH, WE STILL WOULD BE TOWARDS THE BOTTOM
NATIONALLY. THIS IS AN ISSUE THAT
MISSION GRADUATE AND LOTS OF FOLKS HAVE BEEN GETTING
TOGETHER TO WORK ON IN RECENT YEARS. WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THE
WORK THAT YOU’RE DOING?>>WELL, MISSION GRADUATE IS
A CRADLE TO CAREER EDUCATION PARTNERSHIP. I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT MAKES US DIFFERENT IS THAT WE REALLY BROUGHT A LOT
OF THE COMMUNITY’S TOP LEADERSHIP TOGETHER SEVERAL
YEARS AGO TO TAKE ACTION ON A BIG GOAL FOR EDUCATIONAL
IMPROVEMENT. AND OUR GOAL IS ACTUALLY
TIED TO COLLEGE ATTAINMENT. WE’RE TRYING TO GRADUATE
60,000 MORE PEOPLE WITH COLLEGE DEGREES AND
CERTIFICATES BY THE YEAR 2020, SO JUST A FEW YEARS
FROM NOW. BUT WE KNOW THAT IN ORDER TO
HIT THAT GOAL, WE ACTUALLY HAVE TO HAVE STRATEGIES
UNDER WAY IN COLLEGE TO GET MORE STUDENTS GRADUATED FROM
COLLEGE, TO GET MORE PEOPLE INTO THAT COLLEGE PIPELINE,
AND THEN ULTIMATELY INCREASING THE NUMBER OF
STUDENTS WHO ARE GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL. I THINK THAT WHAT’S SPECIAL
ABOUT MISSION GRADUATE IS IT’S CROSS-SECTOR. WE HAVE TOP LEADERSHIP
INVOLVED. WE HAVE TWO PRESIDENTS FROM
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION, KATHY WINOGRAD AT
CNM AND CHAOUKI ABDALLAH AT UNM. WE’VE GOT A COUPLE OF
SUPERINTENDENTS, SUPERINTENDENT REEDY AND
SUPERINTENDENT CLEVELAND, AS WELL AS A NUMBER OF BUSINESS
LEADERS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS WHO HAVE COME
TOGETHER AND SAID, WE REALLY WANT TO WORK DIFFERENTLY
TOGETHER AS A COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT KIDS BOTH IN SCHOOL
AND OUT OF SCHOOL, TO HELP THEM BE SUCCESSFUL IN
COLLEGE, CAREER AND LIFE.>>BECAUSE KIDS, LIKE
EVERYONE OUT THERE, THEY’RE A PART OF THE COMMUNITY, THE
ISSUES THEY’RE DEALING WITH ARE COMMUNITY ISSUES AND
SOCIAL ISSUES. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT SOME
OF THE REASONS WHY KIDS MAY BE FALLING BEHIND AND NOT
GRADUATING?>>WELL, IT’S COMPLEX. THERE ARE SO MANY INDIVIDUAL
CIRCUMSTANCES THAT KIDS FACE. BUT ONE OF THE KIND OF
FRAMEWORKS THAT WE CONTINUE TO GO BACK TO IN OUR MISSION
GRADUATE WORK IS SOMETHING KNOWN AS EARLY WARNING
INDICATORS. WHEN WE LOOK AT THE BIG
FACTORS THAT PREDICT THE LIKELIHOOD THAT A STUDENT
WILL FALL OFF TRACK TO GRADUATION, WE THINK OF ABC. ATTENDANCE, BEHAVIOR, AND
COURSE COMPLETION. SO, THE FIRST ONE IS SCHOOL
ATTENDANCE. WE KNOW THAT IF KIDS AREN’T
SHOWING UP TO SCHOOL, AND IT STARTS AS EARLY AS
KINDERGARTEN AND EVEN PRE-K, THAT THOSE DAYS MISSED, AND
IT’S JUST AS FEW AS TWO DAYS A MONTH, CAN REALLY ADD UP
AND SET KIDS BACK. BEHAVIOR IS REALLY ALL ABOUT
DISCIPLINE, AND FOR FAR TOO MANY OF OUR KIDS THEY ARE
ENTERING INTO WHAT IS SOMETIMES CALLED THE SCHOOL
TO PRISON PIPELINE, BUT IT REALLY HAS TO DO WITH
GETTING INVOLVED IN JUVENILE JUSTICE AND SOMETIMES NOT
BEING ABLE TO GET BACK ON TRACK AGAIN ONCE STUDENTS
ARE EXPOSED TO THAT SYSTEM. THE THIRD IS COURSE
COMPLETION, AND IN HIGH SCHOOL IT HAS A VERY
PRACTICAL EFFECT. IT’S REALLY ABOUT CREDITS. IN HIGH SCHOOL, YOU HAVE TO
ACCUMULATE A CERTAIN NUMBER OF CREDITS TO GRADUATE. AND SO AS KIDS FAIL CLASSES,
MANY TIMES THEY OFTEN SEE THAT THEY’RE NOT GOING TO BE
ABLE TO MAKE IT TO GRADUATION ON TIME, AND SO
THERE ARE FEWER AND FEWER INCENTIVES AS THEY GET
CLOSER TO GRADUATION TO ACTUALLY STAY ON TRACK AND
GRADUATE. THE COURSE COMPLETION ALSO
TOUCHES ON READINESS. AND SO COURSE COMPLETION IS
ABOUT BEING ABLE TO MAKE SURE THAT KIDS ARE READY
EVERY SINGLE YEAR AS THEY’RE MOVING THROUGH THAT
EDUCATIONAL PIPELINE SO THAT BY THE TIME THEY GET TO HIGH
SCHOOL, THEY’RE SET UP FOR SUCCESS AND THEY’RE ABLE TO
PASS THEIR COURSES AND GO ON.
AND THEN LASTLY, I’LL SAY THAT COURSE COMPLETION IS
ABOUT RELEVANCE, BECAUSE WE BELIEVE STRONGLY, AND WE’VE
HEARD THIS FROM KIDS WE’VE TALKED TO, WE’VE HEARD THIS
FROM COMMUNITY PARTNERS, THAT KIDS, IN ORDER TO BE
ENGAGED IN THEIR LEARNING, THAT WHAT WE’RE TEACHING
THEM BOTH IN SCHOOL AS WELL AS THE OUT-OF-SCHOOL
EXPERIENCES WE’RE CREATING FOR THEM NEED TO BE RELEVANT
AND ENGAGING TO THEIR DIRECT LIVES, THEIR EVERYDAY LIVES.>>WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE? IS IT INTERNSHIPS OR
INTERACTING WITH BUSINESS LEADERS?>>THAT’S ONE PIECE OF IT. WE ACTUALLY DID A NUMBER OF
FOCUS GROUPS LAST YEAR HERE IN THE ALBUQUERQUE AREA, AND
WE PRODUCED SOMETHING THAT’S KNOWN AS THE ALBUQUERQUE
GRADUATE PROFILE. THAT GRADUATE PROFILE IS
AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE FOR ANYONE WHO’D LIKE TO LOOK AT
IT, MISSIONGRADUATENM.ORG, AND IT REALLY LAYS OUT A LOT
OF THE CORE COMPETENCIES OR THE KNOWLEDGE SKILLS AND
ATTITUDES THAT OUR KIDS NEED TO HAVE TO BE SUCCESSFUL
AFTER HIGH SCHOOL. BUT IT ALSO LAYS OUT A SET
OF FOUNDATIONAL EXPERIENCES THAT COMMUNITY MEMBERS TOLD
US OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN THAT KIDS NEED TO HAVE
TO BE SUCCESSFUL AFTER HIGH SCHOOL, AND IT COMES DOWN TO
HAVING THINGS LIKE CARING ADULTS IN YOUR LIFE. AND IT’S NOT JUST A SINGLE
MENTOR, IT’S A COLLECTION OF PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE,
STARTING WITH PARENTS AND FAMILY MEMBERS, BUT IT COULD
BE A BUSINESS PARTER WHO IS HOSTING AN INTERNSHIP, IT
COULD BE A COACH, IT COULD BE SOMEONE WHO IS LEADING AN
AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM. THOSE CARING ADULTS REALLY
MATTER. WE ALSO HEARD THAT THINGS
LIKE INTERNSHIPS AND HAVING AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE
REAL WORLD ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM CAN
REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE. AND IN ADDITION, IT’S THINGS
THAT WE CAN DO INSIDE THE CLASSROOM, AS WELL, SUCH AS
HAVING AUTHENTIC CURRICULUM THAT REALLY IS TIED TO
STUDENTS’ LIVED EXPERIENCES IN THEIR COMMUNITIES.>>WITH WHERE WE’RE AT RIGHT
NOW, THAT SOUNDS GREAT MOVING FORWARD. WHAT ABOUT STUDENTS WHO
HAVEN’T GRADUATED WHO MAYBE COULD GO BACK AND GET A GED
AND THEN GO INTO COMMUNITY COLLEGE OR SOME OTHER SORT
OF TRAINING OR HIGHER EDUCATION?>>RIGHT. SO THERE ARE A LOT OF GREAT
OPTIONS FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE LOOKING TO GO BACK, AND ONE
OF OUR INITIATIVES IN MISSION GRADUATE THAT WILL
BE FORMALLY LAUNCHING SOON IS SOMETHING CALLED
GRADUATE ABQ. IT’S A WAY FOR YOUNG FOLKS
WHO WANT TO ACTUALLY GET BACK INTO POST SECONDARY
EDUCATION OR COLLEGE — WHEN WE TALK ABOUT COLLEGE, BY
THE WAY, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ANYTHING AFTER HIGH SCHOOL. SO IT COULD BE STARTING WITH
A CERTIFICATE PROGRAM AT CNM, AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE, OR
A BACHELOR DEGREE, SOMETHING THAT’S MORE OF A FOUR-YEAR
EXPERIENCE. SO GRADUATE ABQ IS JUST NOW
GETTING STARTED. ANYONE WHO WANTS TO LEARN
MORE, WE ACTUALLY HAVE SOMEONE THAT WOULD BE
WILLING TO SIT DOWN WITH YOU AND TALK ABOUT OPTIONS FOR
GOING BACK. PEOPLE CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT
GOING TO GRADUATEABQ.ORG.>>HOW DO WE MEASURE
SUCCESS? BECAUSE THIS IS A LONG TIME
ISSUE IN NEW MEXICO, SO THE SOLUTIONS ARE GOING TO TAKE
A WHILE TO GET THERE AND SEE CHANGE. HOW DO YOU MEASURE SHORT
VERSUS LONG-TERM SUCCESS IN THIS AREA?>>SO, THIS IS ONE OF THE
THINGS THAT WE’VE COMMITTED TO DO AS A PARTNERSHIP IN
MISSION GRADUATE, AND I THINK IT’S ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT PERHAPS SETS US APART. WE EVERY SINGLE YEAR PRODUCE
AN ANNUAL DATA REPORT. FOR ANYONE WHO IS
INTERESTED, AGAIN, IT’S ON OUR WEBSITE. AND ONE OF THE CORE THINGS
THAT WE TRACK IS PROGRESS TOWARD OUR BIG GOAL, WHICH
IS AROUND COLLEGE ATTAINMENT, AND WHAT THE
DATA IS SHOWING US — OUR DATA LAGS A LITTLE BIT, AS
WELL, BUT AS OF 2015, WE ARE ABOUT A 5th OF THE WAY
TOWARD THAT 60,000 CERTIFICATE AND DEGREE GOAL. ABOUT 12,716 NEW GRADUATES
BETWEEN 2010 AND 2015. THAT’S REMARKABLE PROGRESS,
AND I THINK IT’S WORTH POINTING OUT THAT OUR LOCAL
INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION, PARTICULARLY
THOSE OF CNM AND UNM, ARE REALLY DOING A LOT OF GREAT
WORK WITHIN THEIR INSTITUTIONS TO INCREASE
GRADUATION RATES. AND THAT’S EVEN IN THE FACE
OF DECLINING ENROLLMENT. WE’RE STILL SEEING INCREASES
IN COLLEGE GRADUATION AT THOSE INSTITUTIONS. AND SO AS A COMMUNITY, FROM
A POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION STANDPOINT, WE’RE ACTUALLY
INCREASING PROGRESS AND OUR DATA IS SHOWING THAT FROM
YEAR TO YEAR. WE ALSO ARE TRACKING OTHER
METRICS. SO, HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION
IS ONE THAT WE TRACK. WE LOOK AT THE DATA BY
SCHOOL DISTRICT. WE ALSO TRY TO AGGREGATE
THAT DATA SO THAT WE CAN SEE AS A COMMUNITY HOW WELL
WE’RE DOING. AND THEN WE LOOK AT
INDICATORS ALL THE WAY BACK, INCLUDING 3rd GRADE
LITERACY, 8th GRADE MATH PROFICIENCY, BECAUSE WE WANT
TO UNDERSTAND HOW WELL STUDENTS ARE BEING PREPARED
AS THEY’RE MOVING THROUGH THAT CONTINUUM TO GRADUATION
DAY.>>DO YOU FIND IT
CHALLENGING TO TELL THAT STORY, THOUGH, TO THE
PUBLIC? BECAUSE HEARING THAT WE’RE
THE WORST IN THE NATION JUST GETS A LOT MORE ATTENTION.>>YEAH, IT’S CHALLENGING AT
TIMES TO BE ABLE TO CONVEY THE AMOUNT OF ENERGY THAT
OUR COMMUNITY IS PUTTING IN TO REALLY TRY AND IMPROVE
GRADUATION RATES, AND THE FACT THAT WE’RE STILL NOT
SEEING THE KIND OF PROGRESS WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE AS A
COMMUNITY. BUT I JUST WANT TO SAY THAT
I BELIEVE STRONGLY FROM THE WORK THAT WE’VE DONE OVER
THE PAST FEW YEARS WITH OUR PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS, THERE
ARE A LOT OF REALLY GREAT PEOPLE IN THIS COMMUNITY
THAT ARE COMING TOGETHER IN NEW AND DIFFERENT AND
INNOVATIVE WAYS, AND ARE REALLY TRYING TO FIND WAYS
TO TURN THE SITUATION AROUND. AND I’M VERY HOPEFUL ABOUT
THE FUTURE. I BELIEVE STRONGLY THAT WE
WILL SEE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES, AS WELL AS
JUST EDUCATION MORE GENERALLY, START TO IMPROVE
IN THE YEARS TO COME, AND I THINK POST-SECONDARY
EDUCATION AND THE SUCCESS WE’RE SEEING THERE IS A REAL
LEADING INDICATOR OF THE IMPROVEMENTS THAT I HOPE TO
SEE IN HIGH SCHOOL, AS WELL AS THAT K-12 EDUCATION
CONTINUUM.>>WE APPRECIATE YOU COMING
BY THIS WEEK, AND WE’LL CHECK IN WITH YOU AGAIN
ABOUT THIS ISSUE. I THINK IT’S AN IMPORTANT
ONE FOR NEW MEXICO.>>ABSOLUTELY, THANK YOU.

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