Success Builders: "3 to 6" Programs

Success Builders: "3 to 6" Programs
Posted on 04/24/2017
3 to 6 Programs

Throughout the 2016-2017 year, we are turning the spotlight on “Success Builders” in our school district. Each article in the “Success Builders” series focuses on programs and people who help our students meet the Profile of the 21st Century Graduate.

Athletics, band, and JROTC programs have been staples of American school culture for over a century. But in recent years, as the state and national conversation about education has centered on accountability and results, some people ask: “How do these programs impact the educational bottom line?” Tommy Plumblee, the athletic director at Daniel High School recently researched a compelling answer to that question.

In Pickens County, we sometimes refer to athletics, JROTC, and band as “3-6 Programs.” That stands for programs that engage students between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. This is a critical time of day for many students--after school dismisses, but before a parent gets off work to give their child structure for the rest of the day. It is also a time when attitudes about school are established.

“Boys who have zero interest in school will show up and keep their grades up if it means keeping a spot on the football team,” Plumblee said. “That’s something we’ve always believed based on anecdotal evidence. But now we have the numbers to really back it up.”

Plumblee coordinated with his counterparts at all four SDPC high schools—Daniel, Easley, Liberty, and Pickens—to track the graduation rate of all of the students participating in 3-6 Programs. Here are the highlights of what their research revealed:

  • For 2016 seniors participating in 3-6 Programs, the graduation rate was above 99 percent. The graduation rate for the district as a whole was 83.4 percent.
  • SDPC high schools had slightly more than 3,000 participants in 3-6 programs last year. Although that number counts students participating in multiple programs (such as band and athletics) twice, athletics alone represented 2,064 students. Out of all of those students, only six dropped out of school.

 “Improving the graduation rate has been a school and district goal for years, and it’s one of the most important parts of the new South Carolina School Report Card system,” said Josh Young, Daniel High School principal. “More importantly, it’s crucial to our mission. We expect every student who walks through our doors to leave with a diploma, but they have to earn it, and they have to be motivated to earn it. 3-6 Programs provide that motivation.”

Plumblee has continued his research for the 2016-2017 school year, and the numbers are already encouraging. District-wide participation in athletics, band, and JROTC has stayed steady, and only four dropouts have been reported from that group.

“Athletics, band, and JROTC change students in huge ways, but sometimes that impact is hard to quantify. You don’t see it on paper, but you see it in the way those activities transform their character in years to come,” Plumblee said. “Sometimes it’s nice to see that impact on paper too, though.”