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DOE concentrating on student success

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It's his first address since being allowed to return back as the head of the Guam Department of Education. Superintendent Jon Fernandez is giving his State of Public Education Address this evening. The topic: Creating a generation of students who are resilient, resourceful and ready for their future.

Earlier today, we spoke with DOE leadership about some of those efforts underway.

How will the island's public school system help the students? That's a question Fernandez is answering. Among the topics he will present, the graduation rate being up at 82 percent this past school year compared to the 79 percent recorded in 2016.

Deputy Superintendent Joe Sanchez says the focus has been to help students just entering high school, telling KUAM News, "One of the first things we do is make it clear that our goal is to try to keep as many students as possible in school. Get them to graduate and to make sure that when they do graduate that they are ready for college or a career of their choice."

In 2011, only 69 percent of their students were making it to graduation. "So some of the schools like southern high and GW have the Johns Hopkins program which has a particular format for how to run their freshmen academy where they have preparatory course they take before they take their math, English and social study classes and that has resulted in a larger percentage of students who actually pass their classes in ninth grade," Sanchez said.

Also noted is the downward trend in dropout rates over the past four year, dropping from 2.8% last year to 2.4% in 2017. GDOE officials saying they have been aggressive in implementing programs and interventions designed to keep kids in school and enable those who have fallen behind to catch up.

"What we found over the years is we have a growing number of students who are homeless, who don't have a place to stay, students who live in an environment where there is drugs and make it difficult for them to have a stable life, we know a lot of them live in poverty so transportation and housing becomes an issue and making sure uniforms are clean...In order for us to help them we are going to have to try and find additional support," he said.

Additional support for all the schools and their 30,000 students.

The State of Education address is underway at Okkodo High.

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