Celebrating Progress and Partnership: Reflecting on the GRAD Partnership’s Student Success System Convening in Denver

May 9, 2024
By Patricia Balana, Managing Director, The GRAD Partnership

This week, as schools across the nation celebrate teachers, we reflect on our most recent gathering of leaders from more than 20 districts that took place in Denver, Colorado. The energizing event put a spotlight on the tireless efforts of our educators and highlighted the transformative strides schools are making in building student support systems nationwide. The convening was the second in a series of regional GRAD Partnership gatherings (following the successes of our first gathering in Baltimore), that bring together student support staff and district leaders to discuss the burgeoning implementation and growing impact of student success systems. 

The Denver convening assembled a dynamic mix of district leaders, educators, and partners united by a common goal: to share successes, learn from each other, confront challenges, and devise strategies for ensuring  students are engaged, empowered, and on track in their educational journeys. Over the course of two days, the group explored challenges and opportunities through the lens of the four components of student success systems.

Uniting for a Common Cause

“One of the key takeaways from this convening is the power of shared knowledge and experience,” remarked a participating district leader. “Adapting successful strategies from one district or region and applying them in another can significantly propel our progress.”

Another attendee commented, “It was a great collaboration between school districts in the southern region.  We are all dealing with the same challenges. Our response and duty to students is to attend to ‘connectedness’ and ‘belonging’ as we respond to the effects of COVID. The collaboration and discussion with others helped us consider how best to develop our district support plan.”

Addressing Key Challenges: Comprehensive Approaches

By leveraging student and family engagement alongside data and strategic actions, student success systems have the power to address core issues like chronic absenteeism, and student achievement and well-being. Student success systems also improve coordination and synergy among teacher and school staff, who can otherwise be pulled in different directions by related but disconnected student support efforts. 

During the sessions, participants engaged deeply on how to effectively build these systems, especially in schools that serve high proportions of students who are historically underserved in public education. Educators shared innovative strategies that have proven successful in their districts, including tailored interventions that connect students and families with necessary resources and support networks. 

“We need to look beyond the symptoms and understand the root causes of challenges like absenteeism,” explained an educator during a session. “It’s about creating systems that address all facets of student life, ensuring they have the support needed to succeed.”

The group explored multifaceted approaches, including targeted policy changes, a review of teacher preparation programs, and enhanced compensation packages for teachers. Participants noted the need for well designed professional supports that strengthen teacher retention and effectiveness. Participants also commented on the need for strong community partnerships, which are essential for a sustainable and effective student success system.

A Call to Action

The GRAD Partnership is dedicated to increasing the use of student success systems  to support more students on their path to graduation and pursuit of postsecondary and workforce goals. The insights gained from the Denver convening will play a crucial role in shaping the strategies moving forward. We look forward to more gatherings that not only celebrate  achievements but also pave the way for future advancements.

“The insights shared here in Denver are crucial for our ongoing efforts,” noted another convening attendee. “Our collective work is about more than just educational achievements; it’s about supporting every aspect of our students’ lives.”

This Teacher Appreciation Week, let us all celebrate and thank the incredible contributions of our educators and the vital role they play not just in teaching, but in shaping the future of education. Through continued partnership, advocacy and commitment, we can ensure that every student has the support they need to succeed while also advocating for a system that recognizes and rewards our educators. 

Share to your network
Skip to content