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In The News …

Maryland behind 11 states, tied with five others on graduation rates (Gazette): “The US Department of Education released statistics Monday ranking states by high school graduation rates, reflecting new data reported consistently nationwide [...] The new, uniform methods are the result of 2008 federal regulation. Beginning with data from 2011-2012, graduation rates will be used to hold states accountable for school performance.” With an 83% graduate rate, Maryland ties for the twelfth spot on the list (along with five other school systems); Virginia comes in just behind at 82%, while DC’s rate is 59% based on 2010/2011 school year data. The complete list is available here.

‘Giving Tuesday’: The Start Of A Holiday Tradition? (WAMU): “First, there was the post-Thanksgiving sales spectacle Black Friday and then the online version, Cyber Monday. Now, charitable groups want to start a new holiday tradition — it’s called Giving Tuesday. It may seem a little surprising that no one came up with the idea before of designating a specific day to help launch the holiday charitable giving season.” What do think of the new tradition? Did you give on Tuesday, or do you plan to give closer to the end of the year? Time of year aside, remember to check out Washington City Paper’s 2012 Donation Guide for ideas!

On ‘Giving Tuesday,’ big donors shed light on why, when and how they give (Washington Post): “Why, when, how and to whom do wealthy people give? It’s a core question for charitable organizations confronted with an uncertain economic climate [...] A new video series produced by the nonprofit consulting firm Bridgespan Group offers some answers.” On Tuesday, Bridgespan launched the video series “Conversations with Remarkable Givers,” which features interviews with some of the country’s most prominent philanthropists. “The site,, features the roughly 400 video clips — a database that is expected to expand to roughly 1,200 over the next several months.”

In Our Schools

By Marie LeBlanc, Catalogue Community Partnerships Coordinator

Today’s political and economic conversations tend to revolve around one problem and its many side-effects: the struggling economy, and thus high unemployment rates and student loan debt, especially among youth and recent graduates. However, for one segment of the population, even the burden of student debt is out of reach because they don’t have the opportunity to go to college. Today, drop-out rates in the US are startling. According to American Graduate, 1.3 million students drop out of high school each year. DC’s high school graduation rate is 76%, with significantly different rates depending on race. Students who don’t complete high school are ineligible for some low-skill jobs, never mind the high number of professions today that require at least a Bachelor’s degree.

The American Graduate Initiative tackles this issue head on, with the support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. WAMU published a series of articles addressing the dropout crisis in the area. Reporter Kavitha Cardoza explores the “causes and consequences of the dropout problem” in DC, and also look at innovative support for at-risk students provided by a variety of community organizations.

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In The News …

In DC schools, 59 percent of students get diploma on time (Washington Post): “Less than 60 percent of DC high school students graduated on time in 2011, according to a new and more rigorous calculation of completion rates announced Thursday.” DC officials pointed out that reported graduations rates have dropped, in part, due to the new counting system that “call[s] for schools to track individual ninth-graders and follow them if they move.” The new numbers also revealed a widening gap between the city’s public charter schools and traditional public high schools in the ability to graduate students on time.” The overall graduation rates for charters was 79.7 percent versus 52.9 perfect for traditional schools, a much larger differential than in 2010 (86.6 percent and 75.75). However, in a follow-up piece, Bill Turque noted that “four-year completion improved from 73 percent to 80 percent under the old calculus there is some movement in the right direction.”

Using the Whole Talent Pool: An Interview with Shannon Maynard and Robert Grimm (Nonprofit Quarterly: Management): “Nonprofit Quarterly editor in chief Ruth McCambridge spoke to Shannon Maynard and Robert Grimm of the Corporation for National and Community Service about their work, the latest research on volunteering, and trends in effective nonprofit staffing management.” Grimm pointed out that both the volunteering rate and the voting rate have increased among young people, and that “there was recently a 25-year high in entering college students who believed that it was essential or important to help others.” Discussing the nonprofit contribution to “social capital,” he also explained that “volunteer associations are part of the core, or the building blocks, of the civic tradition of a community. When organizations are doing a good job of engaging the community, you?re going to see high levels of citizen engagement.”

A Novel Idea: Arlington Plans To Add To Library Budget (WAMU 88.5): “As government leaders across Northern Virginia prepare their budgets for fiscal year 2013, many are considering another round of cuts to libraries. One jurisdiction, at least, has chosen to buck the trend. Arlington County is considering a plan that would add $605,000 and eight employees to the library system at a time when other jurisdictions are considering cutbacks. The budget debate comes at a time when libraries across the region are experiencing a steady increase in demand.” County Board member Chris Zimmerman attests that libraries and their free services” are one of the great levelers in American society that give everybody a fair shot.” On a related note, you can learn more about teaching (and learning) literacy in the area through the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.

In The News …

How Many Students Really Graduate From High School? (WAMU): “Now, for the first time, the federal government is requiring states to follow a standardized method. As a result, DC’s public school graduation rate could drop by about 20 percent under the new calculation, according to the office of the state superintendent [...] The new method, called the adjusted graduation cohort rate, requires states to follow every individual child from the ninth grade on until he or she walks across the stage to receive that diploma. It takes into account students who change schools and get held back.” A new State Longitudinal Education Database will track each DCPS student from kindergarten through 12th grade through a special identification number. Could a more accurate picture of graduation rates be a critical step towards improving them?

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