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Editorial: iGrad impact impressive, shows support warranted

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When the Indiana Department of Education released graduation rates for the state’s high schools April 16, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. had reason to be pleased on multiple levels.

The school district’s graduation rate increased from 84.4 percent in 2012 to 85.2 percent in 2013. But what the district also happily learned is that its iGrad program was having an impact on that increase.

The program, started in 2012 by the Community Education Coalition, Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus and Cummins Inc., is a local approach to increase the graduation rate. The Community Coalition’s goal is for the district to have a 100 percent graduation rate by 2017.

iGrad concentrates efforts on motivation and remediation. Students are paired with adult graduation coaches and volunteer tutors and mentors. Students are offered credit-recovery options to make up failed or missed classes, tutoring in specific subjects and mentors to help with goal setting.

Early iGrad results are impressive:

Last year was the first graduating class of seniors in iGrad. Of the 44 seniors enrolled, 42 graduated — a 95.5 percent graduation rate.

Of the same group of seniors, 31.8 percent started attending college that fall.

More students increased grade-point averages than the number whose GPAs declined.

More students showed increases in the number of courses passed rather than those who passed fewer classes.

More students are enrolling in iGrad. Enrollment rose from 308 in the fall of 2012 to 525 this April, and fall 2014 enrollment is projected to be 600.

Those results — helping students who were at risk for failing and possibly dropping out — are impressive. That’s all the more reason to keep the program going in an effort to increase the district’s overall graduation rate.

Funding for the program, which pays for the study coaches at each high school and middle school in the area, runs out after next school year.

School officials say they don’t intend to let the program disappear, and the Education Coalition and Ivy Tech said they want to find sustainable sources of funding for the program. That’s heartening to hear.

What also would be equally heartening is for more community stakeholders to view iGrad as a call to action and support the initiative for future years.

If Bartholomew Consolidated is going to achieve the lofty 100 percent graduation mark, or come close to it, programs like iGrad will be needed.

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