Once we looked at the data collected from these three specific lessons, we were pleased to see how it played out on paper. With the first lesson on high school success, we felt like this was a great way to introduce our 9th graders on how to either continue being successful or to press the restart button and start being successful. The big points that we stressed with them were if they understood the importance of being able to read a transcript and if they knew how to make up credits if needed. It is important for 9th graders to understand that what they are doing right now at the beginning of high school is not only important, but integral to how successful they will be in the upcoming years. The best impact we saw after these lessons were the decrease in classes missed and classes students were failing. There seemed to be a correlation to the information that the 9th graders received and how they viewed their courses.
With our FAFSA night, we saw a direct effect between hosting a program for parents and students and the amount of students who completed their FAFSA. This program gave families the opportunity to not only complete their FAFSA, but to ask important financial questions of the school counselors and the Deloitte professionals who came to help out. The success of this program was helped by offering dinner to the families who came out. As a Title I school, the majority of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch. We have discovered that if we have after school programs or presentations, we will have a better turn out if we can feed our families. This event was a success and something that we not only want to continue, but expand next year. The thing that would help this run smoother would be to have more computers set up and more people available to help. The only complaint that we received from the FAFSA night was that some families had to wait over an hour to get to a computer. We may even try to break it up over 2 nights.
The final lesson that we highlighted was our Senior Presentations. These classroom lessons focused on our seniors and mainly worked with them to sign up for Tennessee's free community college/technical school program, Tennessee Promise. We also spent time discussing other scholarship opportunities, applying to college, making up credits, and ensuring that students are on track for graduation. We had great success with these lessons. By the end of our time in the classrooms, 84% of our eligible seniors were able to apply. Over the next few weeks, the counselors were able to meet one-on-one with students who were absent and help them sign up. Our biggest hindrance in helping students sign up for TN Promise is that the website isn't very user friendly. We are hopeful that changes will be made to the site to help our students sign up easier.