If you can’t measure, you can’t manage it – Peter Drucker

Research at the University of Chicago has shown that ninth-grade performance predicts graduation rates better than any other information available. The Consortium on School Research, at the University of Chicago, developed the “Freshman-On-Track” metric to measure a schools’ success by using student evidence-based research data to keep students on track for graduation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given upwards of $95 million to networks that support such measurable efforts and one such network, Chicago’s Network For Success, which helps 17 high schools, received a $11.7 million grant. Bill Gates wrote in his recent blog post that “Chicago was once called the worst school district in the United States. Today, though, high school graduation rates there are rising, as are ACT scores, GPAs, and the number of students enrolled in AP courses. And gains in elementary test scores outpace national averages.” The students I met at North-Grand during my visit liked the fact that there was no mystery about their standing in their classes. As one senior, Yusef, told me, thanks to this data he is “seeing himself clearly” in ways he couldn’t before.”

Parental involvement is crucial in helping our children succeed. We should dissect our school performance data, look outside the box, get answers to some tough questions and collectively find solutions to keep improving our schools using both our heart and head. According to the 2019 US News and World Report, Scottsbluff High received an overall score of 38.97/100. The school ranks 84th in Nebraska and 10,525 in the nation; 22% took an AP exam; 7% passed at least one AP exam; 23% had Math Proficiency and 34% had Reading Proficiency and a 91% Graduation Rate. Gering High School received an overall score of 26.15/100. The school ranks 131 in Nebraska and 12,735 in the nation. How can we do even better, first in our state, then in the country. How quickly can we implement best practices? Do our schools have a student roadmap for success? Would an IB, STEM, or dual language programming plan work? Will all graduates leave with confidence, have an acceptance letter from a college, trade school or armed services branch, or have a plan to begin a job or participate in a gap-year program?

Raj Sinha


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