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PROPEL process is moving along
Effort targets graduation rate
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Forsyth County News

Community leaders are moving ahead with a new effort designed to lift Forsyth County’s high school graduation rate.

The program, known as Pathways for Reaching Opportunities in Preparing for Excellence in Life, or PROPEL, still is in its early stages.

But following a recent steering committee meeting, Forsyth County School Superintendent Buster Evans said “we’re well on pace.”

“We’ve got a good bit of work to do,” he said. “The next step is actually expanding the work of the group to include others, particularly outside agencies, that are involved with the cause.

“These groups are getting representation from parents and students, so that our large group can help us create strategies and basically those strategies, we think, will help us to reach kids.”

PROPEL is a joint effort of the school system and the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

The idea stemmed from Chamber Chairman Tracy Moon’s service on the SAT 2400 Challenge board, which worked to improve local students' scores on national college entrance tests such as the SAT and ACT.

Moon said the format will be similar to the 2400 Challenge, first reaching out to the stakeholder community for input and then developing the plan.

As many as 100 stakeholders -- among them students, educators, school administrators, parents and local business leaders -- will be invited to a meeting once school starts back in August.  

Their input, Moon said, will help make sure “we’re heading in the right direction.”

“We have some ideas and we think we have a good start of developing it, but we’re looking for additional ideas and additional thoughts,” he said.

Moon said a key component in gaining that information will be interviewing a cross section of the community.

While leaders offer resources and valuable input, Moon said they will also be working with adults who dropped out of high school or earned a GED.

“We want to get input from the people who are in the high-risk groups also,” Moon said. “To get an idea from them what problems they had, why did they drop out, why didn’t they continue.”

Despite a graduation rate nearing 90 percent, one of the highest in Georgia, Evans said continued improvement is an obtainable challenge.

He said the key is identifying areas that are subpar and also enhancing “those things we think are working, those best practices that have worked in the past.”

“As we try to move from an already high graduation rate to a higher rate, I think it’s going to be important that we look, really, across the board. [PROPEL] is not just [for] those that get behind,” he said. “It’s designed to help the needs of every student."