What is Graduation Matters Montana?
Superintendent Juneau launched a statewide effort in the spring of 2010 to ensure Montana's public schools graduate more students prepared for college and careers.
Objectives of Graduation Matters Montana:
- Increase the rate of Montana students graduating from high school college- and career-ready.
- Establish a support network between schools, businesses and community organizations for student success.
- Create school-based and community-based opportunities for student success.
History of the Initiative
In March of 2012, the Office of Public Instruction received a three-year grant from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation for $450,000 to allow more communities to work to increase the graduation rate. Communities that applied for the challenge fund received up to $10,000 to implement successful dropout prevention strategies. This year thirty five communities received the challenge fund to assist them in achieving higher goals, and if these communities are successful in reaching their goals, Graduation Matters will be able to cut the statewide dropout rate in half by 2016.
Superintendent Juneau launched the implementation of locally-designed Graduation Matters initiatives that engage schools, communities, businesses and families in a focused effort to increase the number of students who graduate prepared for college and careers. Forty-three communities have joined Graduation Matters, including all AA schools, smaller, more rural schools, and schools on or near our state's Indian Reservations. Seventy-five percent of high school students attend a Graduation Matters school, and over 11,000 students have taken the pledge to graduate.
Student Advisory Board
Oftentimes, adults plan and discuss educational policy, but rarely talk to the people who will be most directly affected by those plans and discussions: the students. To include student ideas and voices in state-level policies, Superintendent Juneau created the Superintendent's Student Advisory Board.
Twice each year, the board members gather to discuss ways to improve educational opportunities for all students, raise the graduation rate and encourage more students to pursue education and training after graduation. The Student Advisory Board consistently reports that they seek relevant coursework and real-world experiences, clear and consistent rules, a positive school climate and meaningful relationships at their schools. There have now been several Student Advisory Board Summits. To see reports from each Summit, click here.
Relevant Coursework and Career Preparation
In Montana, all high school students take at least one career and technical education course, and over half take three or more. Discussions with students make it clear they desire classes that relate to real-world experiences, career preparation and include hands-on learning. Superintendent Juneau supports the expansion of Big Sky Pathways, a partnership with the Montana University System that links students to career coursework paths so they earn college credits and explore careers while they are in high school.
Workforce projections by the U.S. Department of Labor show that by 2018, nine of the 10 fastest-growing occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree will also require significant scientific or mathematical training. Superintendent Juneau is convening education stakeholders and business partners to create a pipeline for students to be prepared for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math through OPI’s statewide STEM initiative.
I Pledge to Graduate Campaign
Research shows that students are more likely to reach a goal if they identify their own motivations when committing to meet it. Superintendent Juneau, in partnership with local school districts and the Student Advisory Board, launched an "I Pledge to Graduate" initiative in the 2011-2012 school year. Since then, over 11,000 students have taken the pledge.
Students pledge to a significant adult that they will graduate and identify specific reasons why graduation is important to them. This high-profile campaign focuses statewide attention on Graduation Matters Montana, engages community and business partners, involves social networking and highlights student voices and ideas.
For more information on Graduation Matters Montana email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 406-444-5643
Graduation Matters Montana Communities
Is there a Graduation Matters initiative in your community?
As of January, 2016
Click on the community to find your local Graduation Matters contact. Don't see your community on the list? If you are interested in starting a Graduation Matters initiative in your community, contact us at email@example.com.
|Columbia Falls||Betsy Funk|
|Great Falls||Lacey Spencer|
|Heart Butte||Christy Day Chief|
|Box Elder||Shari Ruff|
|Hays Lodge Pole||Susie Werk|
|Rocky Boy||Rachel Seiler|
|Glasgow||Shawnda Zahara Harris|
|Wolf Point||Meryl Zilkowski|
|Lame Deer||Jill Henzie|
|Miles City||Traci Duffin|
|Crow Agency||Connie Michael|
Community Schools & Contacts
Graduation Matters Montana Partners
GMM welcomes corporate, community, and foundation partnerships. Click here for our Local Partnership Agreement.
Montana employers want an educated and innovative workforce, and schools understand they need to develop new strategies to achieve the goal of preparing educated, work-ready graduates. Superintendent Juneau and local Graduation Matters initiatives are working with statewide and local business partners to engage business and community leaders who are committed to helping students graduate prepared for college and careers and to ensuring Montana communities thrive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. To assist in these efforts, the OPI has developed a business and school partnership toolkit.
Current GMM partners include:
Graduation Matters Montana Legislative Goals
Senate Bill 12, Provide Funding for Educating 19-Year-Olds
Some students need an additional year or semester to finish their high school diploma; however, schools do not receive any funding to educate 19-year-olds. Montana needs to update this law to reflect the cost of keeping students in school and ensure they graduate college and career ready. Want to know more? Download OPI's fact sheet on SB 12
Senate Bill 14, Raise the Legal Dropout Age to "age 18 or upon graduation"
Montana students can drop out of high school at age 16, making a decision that will impact them for the rest of their lives. SB 14 would have set a statewide expectation that Montana students should graduate from high school while also providing flexibility for students to pursue other educational options. The last time this law was changed was 90 years ago. In today's global economy, a high school diploma, at minimum, is necessary for students to have a chance at being successful adults. Want to know more? Download OPI's fact sheet on SB 14