Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ (M-DCPS) started the new year with a pop of good news.
The school district achieved its best graduation rate to date — an all-time high of 78.1 percent for the 2014-15 academic year. This impressive student achievement underscores the exceptional work of students, teachers and staff, and it’s something in which the entire school community can take pride.
Alone, the news of increased graduation rates was thrilling, but then we learned we had surpassed other large Florida school districts, including Broward, Hillsborough, Duval, and Orange counties, as well as the state’s rate.
The district continues to implement unique strategies that have been pivotal to steadily increasing in the graduation rate. First, a comprehensive tracking tool monitors the academic proficiency of individual students as they progress through high school, to ensure that they are meeting graduation requirements established by the state. Student Services staff, including guidance counselors and other professionals, provides support to students as early as ninth grade to ensure they are completing requirements on time.
Enrichment programs with a strong focus on literacy prepare students to meet state assessment graduation requirements. Our efforts to ensure that students graduate and are prepared for college and careers mean that lifelong personal and professional successes are well within their reach.
In Miami-Dade County Public Schools, college and career preparation doesn’t just begin in high school. Through career orientation programs offered to students before they even reach high school, we encourage them to think about what they would like to do with their lives and to identify the areas of study that interest them.
Many schools offer students the opportunity to visit colleges and universities as early as middle school, and specialized collaborative programs with local colleges and universities bring instructors into schools, creating opportunities that benefit students, the school district and higher learning institutions.
In keeping with the tradition of providing opportunities to students, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) are sponsors of the 2016 National College Fair in Miami on Sunday, Feb. 21, from noon to 4 p.m., at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center, 777 NW 72 Ave. Representatives from nearly 200 colleges and universities will be at the free fair, allowing students, parents and other members of the public to meet with college representatives and get their questions answered.
Free information sessions on financial aid, college planning, admission, and testing requirements also will be offered. Select sessions will be presented in Spanish and Haitian-Creole. Counseling and computer centers will allow students to access career interest surveys and information about college preparation, admissions and scholarships.
School Board chair Perla Tabares Hantman is co-chair of the local committee of the National College Fair. This is her 20th consecutive year as co-chair.
Every year NACAC sponsors fairs in more than 50 cities across the country that attract 650,000 students and parents. For more information, contact the College Fair hotline at 305-995-1739 or visit www.nacacnet.org.