The Corporation for Public Broadcasting features KERA’s Class of ’17 project in this month’s Station Spotlight. Class of ’17 is a five-year effort that follows North Texas students as they transition from middle school to high school and through graduation.
Public media and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) are actively working to help end the high school dropout crisis. In 2012, CPB created the American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen initiative to combat the high school dropout crisis and raise the U.S. graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020.
KERA serving Dallas and Forth Worth, Texas has a long history of education-related programming. On the air for more than 40 years, the station began with a limited schedule of programs for teachers and students. In 2013, CPB awarded KERA a Strengthening Education Reporting grant, totaling almost $130,000. The station used the grant to create Class of ’17, a five-year KERA News project that follows a diverse group of North Texas students through the crucial transition from 8th grade to high school and then on until their graduation.
“Graduation rates have been a longstanding problem that has vexed parents, teachers and administrators in North Texas for decades,” said Rick Holter, KERA Vice President of News. “We assembled a group of 100 ‘Education Partners’ from across our region, held a series of town hall meetings, and heard again and again how crucial the transition from middle school to high school was for future graduation rates. Our research backed that up.”
Class of ’17 uses radio, web, social media, and community outreach components that deal with dropping out of high school. In addition to reporting on the dropout crisis, the program shares the latest education news, research and techniques. Students’ personal stories of making the basketball team, switching schools, getting a learner’s permit, and dealing with depression allows KERA to put a face on education and the obstacles students face on their way to graduation.