Why Was Options Created?
In the Madison Metropolitan School District there is a serious achievement gap between white and/or economically advantaged students and minority and/or economically disadvantaged students. The disparity in the graduation rates of these groups is significant:
There are a variety of programs available for students who do not graduate with their class to continue working toward a diploma, but most are being under-utilized by the population they were designed to serve. In fact, only 45% continued pursuing their diploma through one of these programs in 2012 and only 34% actually graduated. A significant number of these youth who have dropped out of high school were within four credits of graduating. The Options program was created to connect these predominantly minority and/or economically disadvantaged students with the appropriate program to complete their high school diploma or earn their GED/HSED.
How Options Works
The Options program takes a proactive approach to improving graduation rates by reaching out to both MMSD students who have completed four years of high school, but who did not earn enough credits to graduate and youth that have dropped out of high school (ages 17-24) who have been referred to the Options program by community organizations and government agencies. Interested youth will receive individual counseling and case management, which include:
- Explaining different options for school completion
- Determining strategies for overcoming challenges including transportation, employment, and childcare
- Assistance with program registration and course selection
- Continual support until high school diploma or GED/HSED is earned
Does Options Work?
The Options program has proven to be effective and efficient at immediately impacting the school district’s achievement gap. Simply put: significantly more 5th year seniors are staying in programing and earning their diplomas, and fewer are dropping out.
Operation Fresh Start’s Options program is changing the dialogue regarding opportunities for students who do not complete high school in four years. There is now greater awareness in the community that the opportunity to complete high school does not end at 18 and there is enormous potential to improve our community by reaching out to those who have dropped out.
If you would like to refer a young person who does not have his/her high school diploma or GED/HSED or if you are a youth who would like to finish your high school education, please contact:
Options Program Manager
As a result of the Building Futures Campaign, the Options Program will increase to serving 150 youth by end of 2021. This is case management for 17 – 24 year old youth that have not graduated high school. Currently this program has one ½ time employee and is completely funded by City of Madison CDD. The plan is to increase programming to one full time employee.