This week, nearly 200 Dallas ISD seniors took part in the district's first-ever fall graduation ceremony.
On Wednesday night, 197 Dallas ISD students graduated from high school as part of the Reconnection Plus + program at comprehensive high schools. The initiative aims to provide an accelerated instructional plan for 5th year seniors and students severely behind in credits.
The district reached out to students that had dropped out of school during the COVID pandemic and convinced them to prioritize their education.
Teachers and staff then created an accelerated path toward graduation for them by offering flexible schedules, providing face-to-face instruction, and keeping them accountable in the online education environment.
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“As urban educators, it is important we provide adequate support for students classified as ‘at-risk',” said program leader Marcus 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.
The district plans to extend the program for as long as it is needed to mitigate the effects of learning loss during the pandemic.
“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. “This is a monumental event because earning a high school diploma unlocks higher-paying career opportunities and allows access to postsecondary institutions.”