By Patricia Balana, Managing Director, GRAD Partnership

When chronic absenteeism surged during the pandemic in Albuquerque, New Mexico – as it did across the country – Manzano High School knew family engagement would be key for removing barriers to attendance.  

In November 2022, Manzano convened parents, educators, students, and community representatives for a Family Resource Night. Students who were considered chronically absent by the district were invited along with their families to connect with a plethora of school, community, and district resources.

Family Engagement Manager for Albuquerque Public Schools Ben Barlow kicked off the evening with some introductory remarks, saying, “You don’t have to look very far to see that attendance is an issue all over this country right now. It didn’t start with COVID, but COVID sure didn’t help. With COVID in the rear-view mirror, we are still dealing with the aftereffects.”

He concluded by underscoring the need for educators, families, and community members to work together. “Think about the potential that exists for our kids right here in this room and all over this campus,” Barlow said. “Let’s keep getting them to school so that they have the best chance to realize their dreams. We can do it together – partnering together.”

Nearly 200 families gathered to focus on this challenge, access resources, and make connections. Translators were on hand for all seven languages spoken at Manzano. Health partner Oak Street Health provided 75 vaccines for a number of viruses from flu to COVID, advice for housing and rental assistance was available, and several other resources (such as free or low-cost internet or assistance signing up for Medicaid) were accessible for families.

Family engagement is core to the student success system Manzano has been implementing over the past few years. One essential component of student success systems is supportive relationships between educators, students, parents/families/caregivers, and the community. To ensure students’ success, a culture of working in isolation must give way to one of collective support and shared responsibility.

Manzano’s early warning system coordinator Jeanie Stark noted, “This event really helped build trust with the parents. We are still building those relationships, but I think they will be more ready to call, to help us be more proactive.”

As the first GRAD Partnership spotlight school, Manzano High School will serve as a connecting point for other schools across the country as they seek models and reliable practices that harness the power of community relationships to meet the needs of every student and empower them to graduate ready for the future.

To learn more about how student success systems can bolster students’ wellbeing in your school and get tools, resources, and information, visit the GRAD Partnership website here.

Engaging Families for Student Success

By Patricia Balana, Managing Director, GRAD Partnership When chronic absenteeism surged during the pandemic in Albuquerque, New Mexico – as it did across the country – Manzano High School knew family engagement would be key for removing barriers to attendance.  ...


GRAD Partnership Rural School Spotlight: Burney Falls, CA

Rural Schools Collaborative
Dec. 13, 2022

As part of the national GRAD Partnership for Student Success, Rural Schools Collaborative is pleased to highlight 20 schools who are implementing student success systems as part of a rural and small school cohort project. This feature comes from Burney Falls, CA, and is supported by RSC’s Northern California Regional Hub partners at North State Together. Read the full article here.

OPINION: U.S. high schools must take note and take action after dismal NAEP score report

By Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins School of Education, and Angela Jerabek, founder and executive director of the BARR Center

Hechinger Report
Oct. 28, 2022

New data released this week from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, known as the “nation’s report card,” should raise the alarm for America’s high schools. While scores declined across the board, eighth grade students showed the most stunning drops — underscoring the urgent task ahead for high schools charged with helping students get back on track.

In both math and reading, scores declined to levels unseen in the last two decades. The drops were particularly sharp in math, where just 26 percent of eighth grade students were deemed “proficient.” Read the full article on the Hechinger Report website.

Manzano Named GRAD Partnership Spotlight School

Oct. 19, 2022

The GRAD Partnership is a collaborative effort of nine organizations, working with districts and schools nationwide to empower them to graduate all students ready for the future. The GRAD PartnershipExternal link is joining with schools and communities to create a national movement that taps into the power of predictive data, personalized support, and evidence-based practices to meet the needs of every student… read the full article here.

Keeping Students on the Path to Graduation and Postsecondary Success

By Melissa Mellor, Vice President, Hatcher Communications
July 2022

The pandemic’s deep impact on students is clear. After more than a decade of progress, high school graduation rates are down in many locales, while course failure, chronic absenteeism, and students’ well-being needs are up. Enter the GRAD Partnership for Student Success, a national effort to help schools, districts, and communities get students back on the path to graduation and postsecondary success…. read the full story on Hatcher’s website.

With So Many Kids Struggling in School, Experts Call for Revamping ‘Early Warning Systems’

By Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week
May 18, 2022

When one student starts to fall behind, act up, and disengage from class, many schools now have early-warning systems in place to signal a problem and intervene. But what happens when half the class—or half the school—throws up similar red flags?… read the full story on Education Week.

GRAD Partnership Aims to Keep Students on Track for Graduation

By Andrew Meyers for The HUB, Johns Hopkins University
February 24, 2022

The Everyone Graduates Center has experienced tremendous growth as its programs’ ideals and strategies have spread from district to district across the country. While much of that growth has come by word of mouth, the program is about to embark on a major new phase, thanks to a recent $13 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The funding will bring together the GRAD Partnership for Student Success, eight highly regarded national institutional and nonprofit organizations, to scale up evidence-based on-track systems and strategies geared toward high school graduation and post-secondary success… read the full story on The HUB.

Skip to content