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Tracking student success, no matter where those students are

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The D.C. Tuition Assistance Program (DC TAG) has been very successful in getting students into school. It is a $30 million per year program funded by the federal government that helps students access post-secondary institutions. Because there are so few schools within the District of Columbia itself, students in D.C. can receive up to $10,000 to attend state schools outside of D.C.

Greg Meeropol, deputy assistant superintendent in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), says they've been trying to leverage the DC TAG program by working with academic counselors, students and parents to improve the students' success rates once they're in school.
"We're highly focused on retention," Meeropol says. "We're tracking all the post-secondary institutions where there is a high number of D.C. students and setting up retention programs there." They have a pilot program with counselors and mentors on campus to help D.C. students graduate, even if the school is in North Carolina (as several are).

"The DC TAG program has been fantastic at getting students into school, but we realize we need to do more to help them stay there and be successful and earn a degree," he says.
OSSE also runs the College and Credential Completion Network, which ranges from policymakers to grassroots organizations and provides a forum for members to discuss issues, better coordinate resources, and initiate data sharing. Through the C3N they also seek to improve their footprint with community colleges and other schools that offer professional and certificate programs and help students find and get funding for these programs.

"We realize a two- or four-year school may not be the best choice for every high school graduate," Meeropol says.
Students in D.C. can also received aid from the $1.5 million Mayor's Scholars Fund, modeled after DC TAG but allowing students to stay in D.C. and choose a post-secondary school in D.C., whether public or private. 

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg
Source: Greg Meeropol, Office of the State Secretary of Education

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