After a semester of hard work, ongoing monitoring, and counseling, 197 Dallas ISD students graduated from high school at the district’s first ever Fall Graduation ceremony. This event was the culminating stage of implementing the Reconnection Plus + program at comprehensive high schools. This initiative aims to provide an accelerated instructional plan for 5th year + seniors and students severely behind in credits.
The team behind this initiative, led by Marcus Scott, reached out to students that had dropped out of school during the pandemic and convinced them to prioritize their education and create a path to graduation. The staff worked hand-in-hand with the Student Initiatives and Counseling departments to reengage with eligible seniors. Together they worked with students to offer flexible schedules, provide face-to-face instruction, and keep them accountable in the online education environment.
“As urban educators, it is important we provide adequate support for students classified as ‘at-risk,’” said Scott. “We must create a collaboration between the home and school environments to ensure they foster the intrinsic motivation, self-development, and self-regulatory habits of our students.”
By August, 280 students had been reengaged, of which 197 from 18 high schools were certified to graduate. The additional students will graduate in the Spring.
“Students have worked hard to complete their coursework, and our facilitators have worked equally hard to keep them motivated,” said Jackie McFarland, executive director of districtwide Student Initiatives. “We are now about to experience the fruit of their labor with a Fall Graduation Ceremony.”
Thanks to the initial success of the Reconnection Plus + program, the district plans to extend it for as long as it is needed to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and address unfinished learning.
“Our students are resilient and can overcome any previous obstacles that were once barriers to their academic achievement,” added Scott.
When students walk down to receive their high school diplomas, they should feel pride in what they have accomplished by prioritizing their education and working hard over the last few months.
“This is a monumental event because earning a high school diploma unlocks higher-paying career opportunities and allows access to postsecondary institutions,” concluded McFarland.