Local group puts kids on path to success

In the debates over education that rage with regularity in Washington, D.C. and Austin, there’s a ring of truth to the argument that not only inadequate funding but a lack of support from families and communities contributes to high drop-out rates and poor student achievement.

So when organizations like Communities in Schools of Greater Tarrant County, a nonprofit focused on addressing the many barriers facing at-risk kids, report that the overwhelming majority of students they serve are vastly more likely to improve their grades and behavior, stay in school and graduate, we should pay attention.

This week, during its annual luncheon, CIS released some very encouraging numbers.

In 2013, the group worked with 24,758 students in 39 area schools, 3,440 of whom received intensive case management support. And the results were telling.

Of those who received intensive help, including counseling, coaching and other social and academic services, 70 percent improved their grades, 82 percent improved their attendance and 92 percent improved their behavior.

The graduation rates were even better.

Ninety-seven percent of high school seniors earned their degree, and three-quarters of those students moved on to some form of post-secondary education.

The CIS approach to helping students is holistic. It recognizes that the factors contributing to poor behavior in school, truancy and low-achievement are manifold and no single, cookie-cutter solution will fix these problems. When support at home is lacking, CIS steps in to provide the help needed to get kids on the path toward success.

Study after study affirms what should be a logical conclusion: Those who graduate high school and attend college greatly improve their chances of securing and retaining a job, are less prone to getting involved in crime or to end up on government assistance, and are more likely to have kids who emulate their success.

When CIS says that dropping out is a problem that extends well beyond the schoolyard and bleeds into the community, they are not just waxing poetic.

More importantly, they are doing something about it and what they do appears to be working.