NPT Reports: Graduation by the Numbers

NPT Breaks Down the Graduation Numbers in New American Graduate Special

Half-hour documentary looks at “Graduation by the Numbers;” part of national “American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen” initiative.

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Nashville Public Television (NPT-Channel 8)  takes an in-depth look at efforts in Nashville to keep students in school until they graduate in “NPT Reports: Graduation by the Numbers,” premiering Thursday, January 24 at 9:00 p.m. The documentary is part of the national “American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen” initiative.

In Nashville Public Schools in 2012, one in 11 students dropped out — 8.8 percent — which is almost four times the previous year’s dropout rate. But a student counted as a dropout is not necessarily someone who does not graduate. The result is that the graduation rate can go up—even as the rate of dropouts goes up.The NPT report, produced and narrated by LaTonya Turner, looks at why the numbers for graduates and those for dropouts often don’t add up.

“The numbers can be confusing and in some cases misrepresentative of who is graduating and who is not,” says Turner.

Nashville school officials have taken the lead in Tennessee by looking for ways to make student data more useful, accurate, and accessible, with the goal of spotting students in trouble before they show up in school reports or drop out altogether. The main risk factors for students dropping out are: attendance, academic performance, and behavior. Using a new online digital system for tracking individual student data called the Data Dashboard, Nashville educators can now pinpoint and trace the risk factors and intervene with the student early enough to prevent failure. They are finding that high school may be too late; the risk in many cases begins in middle school or even earlier.

Nashville’s new middle school bridge program was begun to specifically start honing in on earlier for students at risk of dropping out. Simultaneously, some Nashville high schools are now aggressively working to retain the students who might have slipped through but are starting to slip off the path to graduation..” to graduation. A good example is McGavock High School, the largest school in Nashville, which was among the first to embrace the Data Dashboard as a tool – from the office to students in the classroom. It’s part of McGavock’s aggressive effort to turn around a dismal performance record.

Following Nashville’s lead, Tennessee education officials are on the cusp of launching a statewide online data tracking system. The goal is to help educators more effectively identify and reach out to individual students with strategies and support that address their specific risk factors for dropping out before graduation.

“Graduation by the Numbers” is the second in a series of public affairs documentary by NPT as part of its role in the nationa; Corporation for Public Broadcating (CPB) initiative “American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen.” The first was “NPT Reports: Translating the Dream,”  an in-depth look at the graduation rate among ELL and immigrant students in Tennessee; the challenges they face that can prevent them from graduating on time; how schools and teachers are trying to address this increasingly demanding need; and how all of us are impacted when students drop out of school. It is available for free online viewing now at

About Nashville Public Television
Nashville  Public Television is available free and over the air to nearly 2.4  million people throughout the Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky  viewing area, and is watched by more than 600,000 households every week.  The mission of NPT is to provide, through the power of traditional  television and interactive telecommunications, high quality educational,  cultural and civic experiences that address issues and concerns of the  people of the Nashville region, and which thereby help improve the lives  of those we serve.

About American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen
American  Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen is helping local communities identify  and implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. American  Graduate demonstrates public media’s commitment to education and its  deep roots in every community it serves. Beyond providing programming  that educates, informs and inspires, public radio and television  stations — locally owned and operated — are an important resource in  helping to address critical issues, such as the dropout rate.

In  addition to national programming, more than 75 public radio and  television stations have launched on-the-ground efforts working with  community and at risk youth to keep students on-track to high school  graduation. More than 800 partnerships have been formed locally through  American Graduate, and CPB is working with Alma and Colin Powell’s  America’s Promise Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation .

About CPB
The Corpora tion  for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created  by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s  investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of  more than 1,300 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio  stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for  research, technology, and program development for public radio,  television and related online services.

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