Strategies for Student Success 2015 - Page 48

Tennessee in its percentage of economically disadvantaged students, while maintaining a district-wide average ACT score in the state’s top 20. “We think that we do a pretty good job on the academic set. Our data shows that we grow kids quite well,” Mr. Durbin said. At Dyersburg City Schools, ACT preparation and thinking about post-graduation decisions start very early. At Dyersburg Intermediate, which serves all districts students in grades 3-5, college is always part of the conversation. Combining this academic focus with Leader in Me goal-setting and leadership instruction for fifth-graders helps empower kids to meet high expectations. Principal Lenita Click estimates that 65 to 70 percent of her students’ parents received no postsecondary education, so teaching kids that other options are possible requires early communication. With the Tennessee Promise program in place, Dyersburg Intermediate students are hearing now that they can attend Dyersburg State Community College for two years free of charge. Kids hear exactly how much more money such a decision can bring later and learn about the benefits of setting themselves up to make their own choices. Two years ago, the school used one of its two annual Title I-funded Family Nights – which are well-attended, drawing hundreds of parents and kids without any kind of door prizes or “bribes,” Ms. Click said – to educate families about college. Fifth-graders wrote to different colleges and set up presentations about different options. A classroom was temporarily converted to a makeshift dorm room for families to tour. A high school te