Education News

Nov 2, 2012 10:53 AM by Cristy Aranguiz - KPAX News

Missoula looks to build on Graduation Matters successes

MISSOULA- The graduation rate for Missoula County Public Schools is the best in the state, registering at nearly 90%.

But on Thursday, night education leaders explained at an open house how Graduation Matters can make that number even better.

Graduation Matters Missoula was launched in January 2010 and has already led to some of the lowest drop out rates in the state.

"It is basically the entire community coming together and creating the new normal, which is [that] we expect all students to get a great education and graduate from high school," Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Alex Apostle explained.

A team of teachers, parents and other community members work together on early childhood goals that set students up for success from day one, by focusing on what one community organizer referred to as cradle to classroom development.

"They are working with community agencies in Missoula like childcare resources and early childhood development centers to assist getting information out to parents about how important it is to start reading activities," Missoula Education Association President Melanie Charlson added.

Another team finds a variety of ways to engage students from iPads for kindergarten students to the health science academy at Big Sky. Graduation Matters also addresses social issues students may be going through, like the transition from elementary to middle school.

"We are working with middle school students who will then go down into the fifth grades and do some peer teaching, some peer coaching for those fifth graders so when they enter middle school they'll know some things to expect," Charlson said.

The program will now focus on improving student attendance and providing school based workshops, like the one that discusses preventing violence in the classroom.

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