identity and involvement
Painting a picture of a “typical” high school dropout is not an easy task. The reasons behind a student’s decision to leave school can vary from specific life events, such as pregnancy or work obligations, to no longer seeing a reason to come to school due to boredom or frustration. One thing we do know is that the dropout crisis disproportionately affects high-poverty communities. Low-income students fail to graduate at five times the rate of middle-income youth and six times that of higher-income youth, according to a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
So how can schools and communities in these high-poverty areas combat the high number of students dropping out of school? And where does expanded learning time (ELT) connect to preventing school dropouts?
Actor Mark Wahlberg is a high school dropout.
Yes, he defies many qualities commonly associated with dropouts. But even though he’s an extremely successful, well-known celebrity, Wahlberg recognizes the importance of a high school diploma.
“If my career goes south, I’m working at McDonald’s. I’m driving a tow truck,” Wahlberg told an auditorium full of high school students. “That’s why I’m going back to high school.”
Last week, Wahlberg spoke to students at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA., about his experience dropping out of high school in ninth grade. He became involved in gangs, violence and drugs — and even spent time in prison.
In Michigan, homeless students and dropouts will have a new place to earn their education and seek shelter.
Covenant House, which is scheduled to open in August, anticipates an enrollment of 150, but it could double that number if needed.
A new survey has found two of the most common reasons why teens drop out of high school: lack of parental and educational support and becoming a parent.
The information was released in the 2012 High School Dropouts in America survey conducted by Harris/Decima on behalf of Everest College. The national survey asked 513 adults aged 19 to 35 and found that 23 percent of Americans said not having parental support and encouragement was a reason for not graduating from school, and 21 percent said it was because they became a parent.
Taking a multifaceted approach to stemming the dropout tide is essential.
One such approach is career and technical education.
In his Boston.com blog Rock the Schoolhouse, Jim Stergios looks at the successes vocational-technical schools have had in turning at-risk students into graduates.
A report by the Pioneer Institute looked at all CTE schools, and they found regional CTE schools, which are not under the purview of a district or superintendent, are showing some pretty amazing numbers.
The graduation rate for special education students in CTE schools is 82 percent, which is nearly 20 percentage points higher than traditional high schools. The dropout rate is also much lower: in typical high schools it was 2.8 percent in 2011, in regional CTE schools, it was .9 percent.
As nearly every state around the nation adopts the Common Core State Standards, some people have questioned whether raising the academic bar is fair for students who are already struggling academically.
In the study, “High Standards Help Struggling Students: New Evidence,” Education Sector analysts Constance Clark and Peter Cookson, Jr. used state-by-state NAEP data to determine the effect of higher standards on student achievement.
What they found was that there was no negative effect, and in fact, the high standards probably have helped.
Struggling students at Paducah Tilghman High School in Kentucky are getting help making up credits.
The school’s “Credit Recovery System” gives students a second chance and some much needed one-on-one attention, according to Principal Art Davis.
In the decade-old program, about 200 students have been able to earn their diploma when they otherwise would have dropped out.
"In a traditional classroom that kid has to wait, they get frustrated, they don't want to wait," Davis told WPSD News.
The state’s dropout rate was 4.1 percent, according to the Montana Office of Public Instruction, but Great Falls High School has the highest dropout rate in the state at 7 percent.
But administrators there know what’s at stake.
"Kids who drop out are in great danger of getting into trouble with the law or having other problems. In our prisons right now, roughly 75 percent of the inmates have dropped out of high school," Principal Jane Gregoire told KRTV.
One of the big focuses the school has had is helping American Indian students graduate.
Students in West Virginia have swag.
"It doesn't matter what type of clothes you have, we all have swag," Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, told students at Mary C. Snow Elementary School earlier this month.
SWAG stands for Students With Awesome Goals, and it rewards kids in kindergarten through fifth grade for attendance, behavior and academic performance, according to an article in The Charleston Gazette.
The State Department of Education reports that nearly 7,000 West Virginia students dropped out of high school in 2009, and one in five had five or more unexcused absences in 2011. Nine percent of students — which is more than 29,000 — were truant more than 10 days last school year.
Both Latino and African-American leaders in Lawrence, Mass., are encouraged by lower student dropout rates in their city.
“I’m very happy,” Mayor William Lantigua told the Eagle-Tribune. “This is a good indicator and it’s due to the efforts and progressive actions of Superintendent Jeffrey Riley. I have no doubt that there will be better results in the future because of the programs he has implemented.”
Lawrence Public Schools is one of five urban districts that have made the largest gain in reducing the number of dropouts between 2007-2008 and 2011-2012, according to state education data.