House Education Committee Approves Grant to Help 9th Graders Succeed & Lower Dropout Rate

Bipartisan bill approved on a vote of 10-3

(Apr. 11) — The House Education committee passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Bri Buentello, D-Pueblo, and Rep. Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs, that would create a program to help students in the 9th grade succeed, as studies have shown that 9th grade can be an indicator on if a student will drop of out of school.

“As a teacher, I know how crucial it is to provide resources for these students and help them succeed early on,” said Rep. Buentello. “Data shows that ninth grade is the make or break it moment for students. Students are not just passed up anymore, they have to pass or fail, and this reality often hits them like a ton of bricks. The data shows these types programs that focus on keeping kids in schools succeed in their mission.”

HB19-1276 establishes a ninth grade success grant program administered by the Department of Education to help ninth grade students develop the skills needed to graduate from high school and succeed afterwards. The bill outlines best practices that must be utilized for the purposes of the program in order for a local education provider to be eligible for a grant. The department would reviews applications from local education providers and recommends to the State Board of Education about awarding grants.

“In Colorado Springs, we’ve got a school district that has a dropout rate of around three percent, which is higher than the state average. This puts that school district in the bottom 20 percent of graduation dropout rate statewide, which is really heartbreaking” said Rep. Exum. “If we can do something to help kids succeed in school, then we should do it.”

This grant would prioritize schools with  four-year high school graduation rates that are in the bottom 20 percent statewide.

The bill passed the committee with a bipartisan vote of 10-3 and now heads to the House committee on Appropriations.

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