Congratulations Matt Diers and Palisade High School

There are a multitude of solutions offered to improve public education in this country. One of them, put forth on these pages recently by Marcia Neal, local representative on the Colorado State Board of Education, is to hold students more accountable for their own academic performance.

Palisade High School, under Principal Matt Diers, has been doing that for six years, and it’s been paying off.

Palisade is a partially closed campus, meaning not all students can leave at lunchtime or other free periods. Juniors and seniors who are failing classes are not allowed off-campus at lunch, but must stay at the school and work to improve their academic standing.

The result of this and other efforts to boost student performance has been increased graduation rates for the school, as well as better attendance and fewer students tardy for their classes.

There are also more students taking advanced-placement classes and higher achieving students. Additionally, the high school’s International Baccalaureate program, started under Diers’ watch, has tripled in size.

Those accomplishments prompted Assistant Principals Michelle Suttle and Dan Bollinger at Palisade High to nominate Diers for Principal of the Year. On Tuesday, the Colorado Association of School Executives announced Diers had been selected for the statewide award.

Diers certainly deserves congratulations for the award. But as he noted, everybody at the high school shares in the award. That includes teachers and other staff members, students and their families.

Beyond the award, however, the results achieved at Palisade High demonstrate there are means of holding students accountable for their performance, and the majority of students will respond when appropriate measures are implemented.

We understand that all high schools aren’t identical and the measures instituted at Palisade may not work for all. Even so, implementing programs that hold students personally accountable for their performance should be a top priority.


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