For several years, guiding over-age eighth graders to graduation has been an important focus of several  middle schools in Gwinnett County, Georgia.  Next year, the program will include an additional school and 372 more students will be added to the 717 already in the program.

Soft SkillsAs the focus has increased on supporting these teens toward graduating on time with peers, grant money has supported the effort.

In 2012, the district received $1.4 million, and since then approximately $500,000 dollars have been received for what GCPS calls the “Gear Up for Graduation” program.  Approximately 50 percent of the funds were provided by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

According to Nikki Mouton, executive director of curriculum and instruction at GCPS, research indicates that when children spend more class time behind their peers, it becomes less likely they will graduate on time.  Many of the students currently in eighth grade classrooms are 14 and 15 years old.

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