Drop-out rates for Black and Latino students begin to increase in comparison to their White peers in 9th grade. The 2011 Step-Up Summit brought together fifty 8th grade male students of color for a research-based experience that sought to prepare them for success in 9th grade and decrease the drop-out rate. Participating students are offered additional mentorship and support throughout the school year.
The focus of the Step-Up Summit was to increase student understanding of the importance of goal-setting, sacrifice and academic achievement, increase self-efficacy and pride in one’s identity and build positive relationships with fellow students and school staff. Activities included courses at Camp Ihduhapi, a scavenger hunt on the Nicollet Mall, and group sessions with the intention to challenge and inspire each student.
Recently, NWSISD staff met with the parents of students that were selected to participate in the summit. After the meeting, Leslie Brooks, parent of one student, said “My prayers have been answered. My son wants to drop out of school and I think this will help him to keep going…I hope you continue to meet with the boys throughout high school and please include him.”
The Step-Up Summit is based on the Scholar Identity Model created by Dr. Donna Ford and Dr. Gillman W. Whiting of Vanderbilt University. Drs. Ford and Whiting provided training to the NWSISD member district staff that will conduct the Step-Up Summit and provide mentorship to students throughout the school year.
Northwest Suburban Integration School District (NWSISD) is a consortium of eight school districts: Anoka-Hennepin, Brooklyn Center, Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose, Elk River, Fridley, Mounds View, Osseo and Rockford. NWSISD works with its member districts to provide programs and services that promote integrated learning environments and enhance diversity and cultural awareness, as well as working on increasing academic achievement and closing achievement gaps.