/ Modified jul 28, 2017 2:54 p.m.

Episode 147: Making the Grade - Success in High School and Beyond

Plus: an update on the state school board, why the sheriff asked the state to investigate his department.

An effort to improve high school graduation rates and set students up for success in jobs or college is working well enough to have earned three more years of funding.

The program is called the Tucson Community Schools Initiative, and it puts people into eight high schools to help connect students and their families to services they need. The point is to give them resources for all aspects of life (help getting health insurance, child care, food assistance, etc.) so the students can focus on their education.

The people who help provide services are part of AmeriCorps, the domestic version of the Peace Corps.

It was started in Tucson in 2015 and last week was awarded a three-year extension in funding.

High school graduation rates went up by an average of 3 percent in the schools that participated, said Ben Olsen, the director of Arizona Serve of Prescott College. He oversees the AmeriCorps program.

There was also a 9.5 percent average increase at the schools in students who completed the federal financial aid forms required for college admission.

Hear more about the program in this episode of Metro Week, plus:

  • An update on the state board of education, from the Southern Arizona member of the board, Calvin Baker. He’s also superintendent of the Vail School District. He explains the top priority for the school board is its ongoing work to establish how to grade public schools in the state.

  • We ask Children’s Action Alliance for an update about what the present state of health care is in Tucson. Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance, discusses how a regular person can keep up with the changes every day to federal policy proposals.

  • Arizona Daily Star reporter Caitlin Schmidt was the first to report the misuse of funds that the Pima County Sheriff’s Department seized during criminal investigations. A top deputy was indicted and sentenced in that case, and now the current sheriff has asked the state to conduct a full investigation into that issue. We check in with Schmidt now to explain the sheriff’s request and potential implications for the department.

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