The experience of the Cincinnati Public Schools proves that major district-wide gains in high school graduation rates for all students are possible. Education leaders in Cincinnati committed to progress and implemented a range of important strategies that produced a 30 percentage-point increase in graduation rates from 2000 to 2009 – strategies that included teaching teams in the schools, student-based budgeting, more autonomy at the school level, and closer working relationships between students and teachers. These improvements have benefited all students in Cincinnati, but especially low-income students and students of color. Cincinnati’s African American students now graduate at about the same increased rate as white students, a notable accomplishment for an urban school district. The positive impacts of these reforms do not stop when students leave high school with their diplomas: College attendance by Cincinnati’s public-school graduates has also increased, along with college readiness and retention.
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