A new report from the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education finds that the American Graduate initiative has succeeded in building community capacity to meet the national priority of ending America’s high school dropout crisis. Public media has achieved this success by raising awareness and building knowledge of the issue, highlighting proven solutions, ensuring a sustained multi-sector response and fostering collective community action toward common goals – key strategies identified in the Civic Marshall Plan for a Grad Nation as essential for progress.
Download executive summary HERE. Download full report HERE.
The evaluation looks at the work of 25 public media stations in high-need communities, as well as the strategies that helped to achieve those outcomes. The initiative aligned itself to the research-based strategy of the Civic Marshall Plan, designed to reach a nationwide high school graduation rate of 90 percent by the Class of 2020. Below are the specific goals of the initiative and achieved outcomes to date.
• Since fall 2011, nearly 1,700 hours of national and local content have been produced, and have reached more than 10 million viewers and listeners each year.
• Public television and radio stations addressed many sides of the problem, illustrating diverse perspectives from all those affected, and showcased solutions to help effect change more quickly.
• Eighty percent of respondents reported that public media had added substantial value to the community’s efforts to address the dropout crisis “by telling the story of the dropout crisis in a way that enabled more people to become involved.”
National and local American Graduate Programming Examples
American Graduate producers are building a shared narrative framework to guide the public discussion necessary for collective action.
• By April 2013, the 25 American Graduate public media stations reported partnerships with more than 750 community organizations. Today that number is over 1,000.
• Public media stations worked with their partners to engage civic leaders, educators and members of the general public in hundreds of events designed to encourage dialogue around the dropout crisis and inspire cooperative action to end it. Tens of thousands of community members, including teachers, students, parents, civic leaders, and representatives of local and national organizations, participated in on‐air broadcasts as well as in‐person events
• Two thirds of the Community Partner Survey respondents indicated American Graduate facilitated greater collaboration among community organizations working to combat the dropout crisis and improve graduation outcomes.
Public Dialog Videos
In interviews, community partners reported that the intensity and consistency characterizing these events enabled citizens to understand both the critical importance and complexity of the issue.
• Several public media stations worked with their partners in innovative and strategic ways to collect data that would guide local planning and implementation efforts.
• Tens of thousands of teachers in many markets participated in Teacher Town Halls, forums, and professional development opportunities. These core activities increased their access to information, tools, and learning networks aimed at building their capacity to engage at-risk youth, and ensured that educators’ experiences became a central part of the American Graduate narrative.
• American Graduate education resources and curricula were major entry points into districts and schools for many stations. Professional development opportunities and conference experiences offered by the stations reached more than 20,000 teachers, directly and indirectly.
Teacher Town Hall Videos
Some districts, expecting to be publicly pilloried for their failure to educate a substantial group of students, were surprised by the inclusive approach adopted by American Graduate stations: “let us learn what you need,” “let us tell the story of your students” and sometimes “let us tell your story to the public.” Districts and schools began to see new opportunities for collaboration with public media stations; in several cases, station leaders and education directors were asked to sit on district or school advisory councils, and to help districts and schools explain education reforms to parents.
• Every station worked with partners to incorporate youth voice and perspectives into media content, activities and events. These activities reached tens of thousands of young people directly.
• According to the partner survey, more than half of respondents felt public media through American Graduate provided youth with greater opportunities to voice their experiences and perspectives.
Youth Media Videos
The initiative put a priority on increasing students’ skills and knowledge, as young people are more likely to stay engaged and graduate if they are learning skills they feel they need to succeed in an increasingly interconnected, technology‐driven society.