Early indications are that programs aimed at increasing the number of Montana students who graduate from high school are succeeding.
While it may be too early to start doing cartwheels, Hi-Line schools are doing better at seeing students get diplomas.
Kudos to North Star High School, where there was a 100 percent graduation rate last year.
Other schools, including tribal schools that have had difficulty convincing students to stay until they get a degree, are doing better, also.
Lots of things enter the equation when students decide whether or not they stay in school.
Usually, those who drop out are academically troubled. Students often feel that school is designed for the more academically oriented. They need to get encouragement and extra help.
The programs seem to be working statewide and on the Hi-Line.
A legislative panel will begin a debate today on whether or not increasing the dropout age to 18 would be helpful.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau pointed out that seeing the graduation rate increase is not just beneficial to the students, it is helpful to the state and its economy. The better educated the workforce, the better the entire economy will be. Employers are more likely to locate here if more people are well educated.
In fact, Juneau said increasing the graduation rate is just the first step. Many jobs will soon require a junior college degree.
The Hi-Line is lucky. Montana State University-Northern, Stone Child College and Aaniiih Nakoda College, formerly Fort Belknap College, provide excellent two-year degrees in areas the marketplace is looking for.
An educated workforce is essential throughout Montana and especially on the Hi-Line, where quality jobs are sometimes scarce.
The success of the Graduation Matters program and similar efforts to keep kids in school is an important first step.