Community collaboration making gains on dropout rate

McDOWELL Education Center’s adult education program and the multi-partner iGrad program constitute an educational safety net for students in Bartholomew County.

Both are intended to help at-risk students earn high school diplomas or equivalency diplomas, and increase the odds of those students earning advanced degrees or certifications.

McDowell’s adult education program has been in existence for more than 25 years, helping thousands of students earn equivalency diplomas, while iGrad started in 2012 to help middle and high school students get on track to graduate.

Those efforts combined have made a significant difference. The dropout rate in Bartholomew County has decreased 59 percent since 2011, with 46 dropouts last year compared to 112 in 2011.

That’s impressive, and an indication that the efforts in place are working as intended.

Additionally, the work of the programs has resulted in more than 90 percent of local students graduating from high school, with a majority going on to pursue post-secondary education.

The Community Education Coalition, Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus, Cummins Inc., Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. and Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. work together on iGrad. The program uses coaches and mentors to assist students at risk of not graduating on time, and help them understand the importance of education. Nearly 600 students participated in iGrad last year.

About 700 students participated in McDowell’s adult education classes last year.

The half-dozen community partners working together on the local dropout rate through these two programs deserve congratulations for their efforts and results.

More students are understanding the importance of education and its impact on their lives, and learning vital skills that will help them earn degrees and get good jobs.

The efforts of these partners also demonstrate the impact of community collaboration and how multiple stakeholders working together can accomplish a lot.

As a result, more students are heading along a path that will benefit them and the community in the long run.

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