What can you do to make students more successful in your community? Get involved!
That's the message in Cape Girardeau, sent out by a group that's spent the last two years looking for a way to raise the district's graduation rate.
The United Way of Southeast Missouri presented its Education Solutions Team final report to school, community, and business leaders Thursday afternoon.
The Cape district's graduation rate currently stands at 78 percent.
The EST goal would raise it to 90 percent by the end of the 2018-2019 school year by focusing on specific benchmarks like attendance, discipline referrals and reading levels.
United Way Executive director Nancy Jernigan says, it's time for everyone to take responsibility for making Cape students successful.
"We feel very positive about the collaboration that we've started with the school district," said Jernigan. "And what we're hoping to encourage is more partners to come on board with us. We have the foundation laid. We know what needs to be done. We have the best practices, the research. We know what indicators we need to watch. It's just now a matter of just getting people engaged and plugged in."
Those in attendance also got to hear about a new statewide goal to raise the success rates of all Missouri students.
Missouri Education Commissioner Dr. Chris Nicastro told them about a new initiative called "Top 10 By 20".
The goal of the program is to make Missouri one of the top ten states in the nation in terms of educational performance by the year 2020.
Dr. Nicastro says right now, student performance matches our geography, right in the middle.
She says that's not good enough.
"What we know is by the year 2018, 70 percent of the jobs that will be available to our children will require some kind of higher education beyond high school", said Nicastro. "When you think about it, that's not very far away. And I think it's going to take our entire community, our entire state, every part of our constituency, businesses, parents, public education officials, all of us working together to prepare our kids to meet that challenge."
Dr. Nicastro says a first big step toward that goal is being taken right now. The State Board of Education is working to revise school standards that will "really raise the bar for Missouri schools," according to Nicastro.