Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced a new initiative to help low-performing schools increase their graduation rates.
The federal government will give $15 million to fund the three-year program called the School Turnaround AmeriCorps, which would send 650 members to about 60 schools that aren’t graduating enough of their students, according to an Associate Press article in The Mercury.
Schools will compete for the grants, which are funded through the Education Department and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Grad Nation report shows graduation rates up, dropout factories down, but there's still work to be done
A new report on graduation rates and dropout factories across the nation is out.
It has good news to share, but there’s still room for improvement.
The Building a Grad Nation report, created by Civic Enterprises, America’s Promise Alliance, the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Everyone Graduates Center at John Hopkins University, showed that overall, 78.2 percent of U.S students graduated from high school in 2010, a 6.5 percent increase since 2001, according to an article on PBS NewsHour.
The administrators at the Providence School District in Rhode Island are finding creative ways to keep their students engaged.
The district has partnered with the nonprofit Providence After School Alliance (PASA) to provide the opportunity for the district’s 23,500 students to earn class credit and digital “badges” for applying skills and achieving outside of the classroom.
The students can do activities ranging from pitching business plans to local companies to learning how to make phone apps at Brown University, according to an article in Education Week.
The Mayor of Los Angeles sees himself in too many kids in his city.
Antonio R. Villaraigosa’s story was like so many others: his father left his family when he was 5 and his mother, who often worked two jobs, raised four children by herself in East Los Angeles. When Villaraigosa was 16, he was kicked out of the Catholic school he was attending and ended up in what he calls a dropout factory of Roosevelt High School.
“I was put into remedial classes, which I found boring and unchallenging after my previous education. But even worse than that, I felt like the school had given up on me. So, I gave up on myself and dropped out,” he wrote in his opinion piece on CNN. “My story could have ended there.”
A school district in Mississippi is working to help keep kids from dropping out.
The Vicksburg Warren School District had the fourth-highest dropout rate in the state between 2008 and 2011, graduating just 56.7 percent of students who started ninth grade in the district, according to an article in The Sun Herald. In 2008-2009, 829 freshmen were enrolled in the district, and that group, who will graduate this May, has dwindled to 417 students.
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.
The fight's only just beginning.
What could our nation do with $94 billion? That's was the cost, in governmental support and lost tax revenue, of the dropout epidemic in 2011, according to Measure of America, an initiative of the Social Science Research Council.
Nationally, about 600,000 students drop out of high school in a given year. And more than 5.8 million 16-to-24-year-olds are "disconnected" – meaning they are not in school and not working.
“Education has become so key to getting into the labor market [that] we call dropping out ‘committing economic suicide’ at this point,” said Kathy Hamilton, youth transitions director for the Boston Private Industry Council, which partners with the school district to run the Boston Re-Engagement Center.
Prevention efforts abound, but The Christian Science Monitor reports that districts across the country are beginning to embrace recovery as a vital part of the strategy to end this epidemic. These districts are deploying a host of strategies — from door-to-door searches for dropouts to alternative schools where people earn free college credits while taking their final high school courses.
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.