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American Graduate is a multi-faceted effort that harnesses the unique role of public media stations as trusted providers of both nationally-distributed and locally-produced content that increases understanding of all facets of the dropout issue through broadcast, web and mobile platforms.
Since 2011, more than 40 hours of national content have aired on PBS stations across the country as specials and on series such as POV, ITVS’s Independent Lens, Frontline, and the PBS NewsHour. More than 121.9 million Americans tune into public television stations on a monthly basis, and 64.7 million listen to public radio each week.
Seventy-five public radio and television stations in over 30 states have produced 1700 hours of local content, including public affairs reporting and Teacher Town Halls. This content highlights the stories of students, teachers, parents and community members most affected by the dropout crisis in order to empower viewers and listeners to take notice and take action in their local communities.
KEN BURNS’ THE ADDRESS (ED-TVP): A feature-length documentary that will explore The Greenwood School's work to create a learning environment for diverse boys in grades 6th to 11th who have severe learning disabilities. Central to Greenwood's remedial language-based curriculum is the training for and annual student presentation of the Gettysburg Address, a tradition that dates to the school's founding in 1978 in Putney, Vermont. On-Air Premiere: April 15, 2014
COMMUNITY TOWN HALLS: Twelve new town hall events led across the nation by local public media stations in partnership with community organizations. The town hall events will build upon the success of last year’s Teacher Town Halls, while bringing together a broader group of community stakeholders, including businesses, parents, students, intervention and faith-based organizations in a town hall setting. The events have the goal of identifying the challenges students face beyond the classroom, improving outcomes of student learning, and moving toward an action plan in developing community-based solutions that support students’ success in school.
MEDORA (ITVS): An Independent Lens documentary, Medora follows a year in the life of the young men on the high school varsity basketball team in Medora, Indiana, a once booming rural community hit hard by failing farms and closed factories. Like the town, the team’s youth struggle to maintain their pride in the face of their own losing streak, even as they contend with drug use, unemployment, and a dwindling population. The film explores educational issues affecting rural youth and communities that experience poverty.
ITVS – The Graduates/Los Graduados: As part of the award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, The Graduates is a two-hour documentary special executive produced by award-winning director Bernardo Ruiz ("American Experience: Roberto Clemente") in conjunction with ITVS. Hour one of the Graduates examines the fault lines in the education of girls and young women through the lives of three Latinas, looking into higher pregnancy rates, lower graduation rates, and identity issues. Hour two focuses on young Latino men and examines successful alternatives to the school-to-prison pipeline, incarceration disparities and increasing rates of incarceration. Hour two also examines the story of an undocumented student who hopes to attend college. Created by a fully bilingual team, the film will be produced and distributed both in English and Spanish. On-Air, Two-Part Premiere: Oct 28, 2013 and Nov 4, 2013 (in English); Nov 1, 2013 and Nov 8, 2013 on Vme (in Spanish); Online Premiere: Oct 29, 2013 and Nov 5, 2013 in English and Spanish on PBS’ COVE.
AMERICAN GRADUATE LATINO SHORTS: Five short-form documentary films executive produced by ITVS targeted to Latino audiences in both English and Spanish. The shorts, made by a select group of veteran and emerging filmmakers – including Betty Bastidas, Madeleine Bair, Xochitl Dorsey, Heather Ross, Jim Mendiola, Raymond Telles, and Angela Reginato –highlight the dropout crisis, focusing on risk factors and innovative solutions through the lens of Latino youth. On-Air Premiere: 5 consecutive Sundays, Sept 22, 2013 - Oct 20, 2013 on Vme; Online Premiere: Both English and Spanish versions available Sept 24, 2013 on PBS’ COVE, as well as on Univison and Vme’s site.
AMERICAN GRADUATE LATINO PSAs: Produced by ITVS, these 5 national PSAs feature Latino celebrities Jimmy Smits, Tony Plana, Rosie Perez, America Ferrera and Aimee Garcia discussing the importance of staying in school and getting a high school diploma. On-Air Premiere: Fall 2013
Is School Enough? Filmmaker Stephen Brown examines self-directed education, and how schools can empower students to reach beyond the classroom to learn from what they care about most. Brown documents vivid examples of this 21st century educational philosophy at work. Students in Maine work with veterinary experts and digital apps to prepare a new home for a retired circus elephant. Young people worldwide use the online Harry Potter Alliance to launch meaningful social justice initiatives. A brilliant but bored teen crafts her own educational experience based on her passion for natural healing and yoga. A young man in Oakland produces state-of-the-art music videos to engage his community—and himself. Featuring some of the nation’s most forward-thinking educators, Brown demonstrates the power, passion and positive outcomes of self-directed learning. On-Air Premiere: Sept 3, 2013
CPB/WGBH Producers Workshop Short Documentaries: These six new short-subject documentaries tell the stories of students from different parts of the country who are working to overcome significant obstacles to graduating from high school. The films were created as part of the CPB/WGBH Producers Workshop, which engages emerging independent filmmakers with public broadcasting. Premiere: August 2013
Roadtrip Nation is a series and grassroots movement that encourages young people to hit the road in search of interviews with leaders who have defined their own distinct routes through life. This year marks the series’ 10th season and 100th episode on public television and will feature interviews with influential leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers. CPB’s investment includes the expansion of a web-based interview archive and the development of a social networking tool that will connect professionals who have built fulfilling careers with young students who are still working to discover their paths. Roadtrip Nation premieres September 10 on PBS. Road Trip Nation Website
American Graduate Day 2013: A national, multi-platform event, including a 7-hour broadcast dedicated to engaging the country around the dropout crisis. AG Day 2013 will feature live, in-studio and in-the-field discussions with celebrity guests and representatives from partner organizations about the issues and solutions, as well as compelling stories from students themselves. The event will be broadcasted and streamed live from the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center in New York City. On-Air Premiere: Sept 28, 2013
Brooklyn Castle The POV documentary Brooklyn Castle takes viewers inside Intermediate School 318, a Brooklyn school that serves mostly minority students from families living below the poverty line. This public-school powerhouse in junior high chess competitions has won more than 30 national championships, the most of any school in the country. Brooklyn Castle is the exhilarating story of five of the school’s aspiring young players and how chess became the school’s unlikely inspiration for academic success. On-Air Premiere: Oct 7, 2013; Online Premiere: Oct 8, 2013
American Promise: This POV documentary spans 13 years as middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., turn their cameras on their son and his best friend who make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys' divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation at Manhattan's Dalton School, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America's struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity. On-Air Premiere: Jan/Feb 2014 . American Promise website
Street Knowledge 2 College: This web-based series features fifteen, two-minute documentary shorts designed to inspire and inform students at-risk of dropping out. Set in South Central Los Angeles, the web shorts explore how FREE L.A. High School, a small community-run charter school, helps kids stay on track to graduate by teaching them how to set goals for themselves and become engaged in their communities. Online Premiere: Fall 2013
American Graduate Day 2012 : This nationwide multi-platform event featured a live television broadcast from WNET New York Public Media with 20 national partner organizations and a radio play list with premiere documentaries from PRX. Viewers and listeners were encouraged to get involved by offering their time, donating resources, connecting with the organizations on social media and learning more about the crisis. Air Date: September 22, 2012
American Graduate Week 2012: World Channel, a 24/7 national multicast channel that features documentary and news programming from across the country and around the world, presented “American Graduate Week,” a week of education-themed films to draw attention to the challenges facing students and teachers at a time when high-school national dropout numbers have increased alarmingly. American Graduate Week was anchored by three WORLD broadcast exclusives – the premiere of film TEN9EIGHT and original programs from WORLD's new series, America ReFramed and The Aspen Institute Presents. On-Air Premiere: Sept 24-30, 2012
PBS NewsHour As part of their 18-month series on the nation’s high school dropout rate, PBS NewsHour has broadcast 38 reports on the nation’s high school dropout rate. They supplement this on-air reporting with blog entries, online slideshows, analysis and live chats. On-Air Premiere: Sept 2011-June 2013
TED Talks Education: Produced by WNET and TED, TED Talks Education, is a one-hour special that brings together a diverse group of teachers and education advocates to deliver short, high-impact talks on the theme of teaching and learning. Speakers include Geoffrey Canada, Bill Gates, Rita F. Pierson, Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth and Sir Ken Robinson. Hosted by Grammy award winning artist John Legend, TED Talks Education is the first time that any TED Talks have been broadcast nationally. The project also includes behind-the-scenes interviews focusing on the future of high school education and the value of public media. On-Air Premiere: May, 7, 2013
TED Talks Local Outreach Events: following stations received funds to host local TED-inspired community events and outreach in conjunction with the national TED Talks Education broadcast:
• KAMU - Texas A&M University (College Station, TX) on September 9, 2013
• KQED (San Francisco, CA) on Sepbember 12, 2013
• Twin Cities Public Television (St. Paul, MN) on September 24, 2013
• WMHT (Troy, NY) on October 1, 2013
• Colorado Public Television (Denver, CO) on October 24, 2013
FRONTLINE has served as public television’s flagship public affairs series since 1983 and has built a reputation for powerful reporting that tackles the tough, controversial, and complex stories that shape our times.
Poor Kids (Program not officially part of American Graduate) This episode follows six children who are growing up against the backdrop of their families’ struggles against financial ruin and asks the children what being poor in America really looks like through their eyes. Filmmaker Jezza Neuman spends time in the Quad Cities, a great American crossroads along the border of Iowa and Illinois, to explore the lives of children living in the suburbs of the nation’s heartland. On-Air Premiere: Nov 20, 2012
The Middle School Moment, FRONTLINE’s report, “Middle School Moment,” explores the work of Johns Hopkins University researcher Dr. Robert Balfanz who has uncovered a series of indicators that he says can predict how likely a student is to drop out of high school. Balfanz’s research says that in high-poverty schools, if a sixth grade child attends school less than 80 percent of the time, receives an unsatisfactory behavior grade in a core course, or fails math or English, there is a 75 percent chance that they will later drop out of high school — absent effective intervention. On-Air Premiere: July 17, 2012
Dropout Nation - FRONTLINE provides a historical context to the debate over zero-tolerance policies, tracing their evolution from the 1990s, when harsh suspension and expulsion policies became the norm. At the same time, the documentary follows a group of high school students at risk of dropping out, chronicling their school experiences and culminating with the question of whether they will graduate. On-Air Premiere: Sept 25, 2012.FRONTLINE website
Tavis Smiley Reports is a series of hour-long primetime specials that air throughout the year. Tavis leaves his studio chair in Los Angeles and goes on the road to examine some of the country’s defining moments.
Tavis Smiley Reports -Education Under Arrest: The second in a series of education specials from Tavis Smiley Reports, “Education Under Arrest” looks at the connection between the juvenile justice system and the dropout rate among American teens and the efforts by educators, law enforcement professionals, judges, youth advocates and the at-risk teens themselves to end this link. On-Air Premiere: March 26, 2013
Tavis Smiley Reports -Too Important To Fail: “Too Important to Fail” examines one of the most disturbing aspects of the education crisis facing America today — the increased dropout rate among teenagers, specifically among Black teenage males. Tavis investigates the root causes of this calamity, as well as what can be done and is being done to reverse this. On-Air Premiere: Sept 13, 2011
180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School (NBPC): Produced by NBPC, this four-part series chronicles the changing face of public education in the District of Columbia by exploring the challenges facing at-risk youth and the relationships between teachers, students and educational leaders at DC Metropolitan High School as they work towards the common goal of graduation. On-Air Premiere: March 25 and 26, 2013
Need to Know: Dropping In As part of Need To Know’s “Help Wanted” edition, this report examines Philadelphia’s ambition plan to reach and re-engage high school dropouts. On-Air Premiere: April 6, 2012 Need to Know website
IDEAS IN ACTION: As part of CPB's American Graduate initiative, Ideas in Action with Jim Glassman takes an in-depth look at nationwide efforts toward ending America's dropout crisis in a one-hour HD documentary, A Matter of Leadership. Glassman highlights success stories from schools across the country and focuses on the core components that have proven highly effective in addressing the crisis, middle school intervention and innovative leadership training. On-Air Premiere: April 1, 2012. Ideas in Action website
MARIACHI HIGH: Mariachi High presents a year in the life of top-ranked members of Zapata High School’s championship mariachi ensemble on the Rio Grande in South Texas. At a time when the Latino dropout rate is the highest of any group nationwide, intolerance toward immigrants (and perceived immigrants) is growing, and public school funding is being cut, these teens continue to pursue excellence through a connection to their cultural heritage. Beginning with high-stakes band auditions, through competitions like the San Antonio Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, and ultimately graduation, the students discover their own unique voices and an appreciation for the richness of a heritage they are learning to embrace. On-Air Premiere: June 29, 2012.
Up HeartBreak Hill (NAPT): This one-hour POV documentary chronicles the lives of three Native American teenagers in Navajo, New Mexico as they navigate their senior year at a Reservation high school. Stations have been provided with materials to brand locally as part of AG. On-Air Premiere: July 26, 2012
Through research, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that the single most important factor for a student’s success is an effective teacher. Therefore, the Foundation has supported a variety of projects that focus on the role of effective teachers, including a partnership with CPB to fund 12 American Graduate Teacher Town Halls. These events, hosted by public media stations across the country, brought together 2000 teachers to discuss the challenges and realities they face in their classrooms, amplify their voices, and promote a dialogue around the issues important to local educators, especially related to resolving the dropout crisis. As a partner in these town halls, PBS NewsHour provided production support to each station and filed several reports from the field for national broadcast. In addition, PBS NewsHour reporters, including Ray Suarez, Gwen Ifill and Hari Sreenivasan, moderated several of the discussions and met with students from local schools. As a result of these American Graduate Teacher Town Halls, teachers confirmed they were equipped with a greater range of strategies for improving graduation outcomes in their schools and changed their beliefs about education reporting with a new perspective about public media’s role in building forums and including the teacher’s perspective in this important discussion. Read the findings here.
Teacher Wall / Teacher Voices - Through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 50 public media stations built on their partnerships with schools, districts, and community-based organizations to identify and record at least five teacher video interviews in their community. At the end of the project, stations had produced over 1,000 short videos featuring more than 285 teachers. Stations distributed these videos on air, online, at events, and via social media, and are available here.
Launched: Winter-Fall 2012
AMERICAN GRADUATE - CROSSING THE STAGE (UNC/PRX): Produced by North Carolina Public Radio, this program talks about what’s happening with the drop-out rate in the country. More kids are staying in school but those numbers might be misleading. We’ll hear about some of the new thinking – ways to make school more appealing or more meaningful so students want to stay in high school, and we’ll get a sobering take on the GED, long thought to be a reasonable alternative to a high school diploma. On-Air Premiere: Sept 2013
Native America Calling: This five-part series dedicates an entire episode of the one-hour call-in program “Native American Calling” to topics related to the dropout crisis in Native communities. Click for full series.
State of the Re:Union, hosted by Al Letson, explores what makes schools across the country work. They tell stories of the game-changing role a good teacher, principal or coach can play in keeping a student in school, and examine education innovators tackling 21st century challenges. Through a storytelling lens, State of the Re:Union paints a portrait of the education system we have now— and the people fighting to change it for the better. State of the RE:Union website
Public Radio Exchange (PRX) is an award-winning public media company with the mission of harnessing technology to bring significant stories to millions of people. The American Graduate playlist from PRX and NCME offers free radio stories, pieces, series and documentaries about the drop out crisis from stations and networks to help spark discussion, debate and and enhance local coverage. The pieces are offered for broadcast and streaming on station sites. Click here to listen to the full American Graduate playlist.
Left Behind, Dropping Out This one-hour American Graduate special, hosted by former NPR correspondent Andrea Seabrook, features a one-on-one interview with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, as well as a look at the dropout crisis through the eyes of the kids themselves in cities such as Chicago, San Diego, Washington, DC, Boston and New Haven, CT. On-Air Premiere: Sept 22, 2012
StoryCorps National Teachers Initiative: StoryCorps NTI celebrates the work of public school teachers across the country. By recording, sharing, and preserving teachers’ stories, StoryCorps calls attention to the invaluable contributions teachers have made to this nation, honors those who have embraced the profession as their calling, encourages teaching as a career choice, and helps to unify the country behind its teachers. NTI places special attention on the work of teachers striving to increase the number of students who graduate prepared for college and careers. As part of the effort, StoryCorps has collected more than 500 interviews nationwide. Premiered: Fall 2011-June 2012
NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL): NewsHour employs its unique Student Reporting Labs mentoring model, news curriculum and online collaborative workspace, in partnership with other youth media programs, to forge connections between public broadcasting stations and at-risk student populations. Youth participating in SRL learn how to report, problem-solve, synthesize information and investigate important topics while completing a media literacy/digital media curriculum and using online spaces to share their work and generate an interest in important civic issues. Students focus on creating compelling youth journalism on education topics with an emphasis on the dropout crisis and on student retention strategies and solutions. Launched: Fall 2010 through Summer 2013
PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs: Rapid Response and Digital Badges: Building on the success of their current SRL project, NewsHour is integrating and expanding a "Rapid Response" model to enhance their ability to get timely responses from young people on important national topics, produce monthly Google Hangouts, implement and evaluate a new digital badges system for motivation and assessment, and align digital badges and the SRL story-telling curriculum with Common Core State Standards in Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects. PBS NewsHour reviews all student-produced content for potential inclusion in the national broadcast. Launched Fall 2013-Fall 2015
StoryCorps U: A college-readiness curriculum program, aligned to Common Core English Language Arts standards, which uses StoryCorps content and interviewing techniques to enhance students’ speaking and listening skills. StoryCorps U fosters self-awareness, social awareness, and connectedness to school—critical factors for high school graduation and success in college and career. Launched: Fall 2011 - Summer 2014
ROADTRIP NATION (RTN) WHAT’S YOUR ROAD?: RTN is developing three learning resources that will help stations scale RTN content beyond a school setting and will motivate young people to stay on the path to college and career. Using elements of game play design, RTN will produce an interactive tool called “What’s Your Road?” that will guide students through RTN's vast interview archive, and will produce 20 new interviews for inclusion in the interview archive and in RTN Season 10. Students will be able to explore their interests, identify possible careers and connect to leaders in fields that align to their passions. RTN will also develop a Pathways Tool that will link students to practical resources to help them prepare for and take the next step on their post-secondary path. The Gates Foundation College Knowledge Challenge is funding a Facebook app for this game. The program will be piloted with WFSU and Florida’s Career Academies to help guide students in their career and education search. RTN will also produce new interviews which will become part of Season 10. Launch: Fall 2013
ROADTRIP NATION EXPERIENCE CURRICULUM: Through a combination of an annual PBS series, online content, youth-created media, digital interview archive, an innovative curriculum and live local events, RTN engages youth, especially at-risk students, to gain access and exposure to life pathways and prepare them for college. Launched: 2011
CPBN’s Learning Lab’s Digital Media Training Program: CPBN’s new Digital Media Training Program through its Learning Lab aims to improve the educational, employment and social outcomes for high school youth. CPBN's Digital Media Training Program enables high school students to build professional level skills to prepare them for college and the workforce beyond graduation. Through relevant and engaging experiences, the program helps keep students on track to graduate and provide a pathway for attaining industry certifications. Students learn the basics of journalism and receive training on industry standard software while applying their skills to produce high quality media projects developed under the guidance of career professionals in a real-world setting. This project serves 20-25 students currently enrolled as juniors at Hartford Public Schools' Journalism & Media Academy. US Veterans are participating in a concurrent Learning Lab media training program and helping the students by leading character-building and leadership activities, as well as tutoring students who need support. Launched: Summer 2013-Summer 2014
MISSION U.S.: WNET (New York) has created Mission US, a multimedia initiative to improve the learning of American history by middle and high school students. The project includes 4 free online video games set in different eras of American history. Through game play, students navigate historic settings, develop relationships with key figures, investigate primary documents, witness pivotal events and ultimately decide their fate in the face of history. In addition, the project includes: a website with classroom resources, activities and social networking opportunities for teachers and students; animated shorts on U.S. history to be distributed via broadcast and broadband and video profiles to be used in classrooms; and a partnership with at least one textbook publisher. Launched: Fall 2010