Many dropout prevention initiatives are attempts to rescue, rehabilitate or revive students who have fallen behind in their studies after a few years in high school.
But the biggest impact, according to researchers from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, comes from a focus on the transition from middle school to high school.
A student’s freshman year is, after all, a key predictor of the likelihood of a high school student dropping out. If a student experiences low grades, a lack of course credit or poor attendance, they are more likely to be off track for graduation, and likely to drop out of school in 10th grade. In order to protect those at-risk adolescents, educators need to recognize how to keep a student on track during their freshman year of high school.
That’s why Jennifer S. Cohen and Becky A. Smerdon argue in their research article, “Tightening the Dropout Tourniquet: Easing the Transition from Middle School to High School,” that effective dropout prevention initiatives should include components that focus specifically on the ninth grade.
When Daniel P. King became superintendent of the 32,000-student Pharr-San Juan-Alamo School District he leads in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, the district’s three high schools had been singled out as "dropout factories" in a seminal national report, 23 high school science teachers had resigned, gangs activity was on the rise and attendance was dropping.
The year was 2007, and the district was in crisis.
The graduation rate of the 2006-07 school year was 62 percent, far below Texas' statewide average of 77 percent.
Five years later, the dropout rate has been cut by nearly 90 percent. The district's graduation rate is now 88 percent — roughly 10 percentage points higher than Texas’ statewide average. And about 25 percent of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo's high school students were enrolled in at least one course that could earn them credit for college.
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?
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 program education leaders in Sacramento, California hope to launch is aimed at getting recent dropouts back to school.
In Stanislaus County, students over the age of 18 aren’t allowed to earn a high school diploma. Students who drop out and turn 19 have few viable options as a GED isn’t highly regarded, Superintendent Tom Chagnon told KCRA.
He knows students need a high school diploma to be successful, and he wants the program Comeback Kids to helps dropouts age 18 to 22.
Schools in Missouri have a 3.2 percent dropout rate, and Columbia high schools have a 4 percent rate.
But one school in Columbia, Frederick Douglass High School, has a whopping 33 percent dropout rate.
The students at the school, though, are facing some pretty difficult circumstances, according to the program Intersection on KBIA.
Many don’t have a stable food source and several are homeless, which creates pretty big hurdles to getting homework done.
The ballots have been cast and the votes tallied.
The winner of the first American Graduate Student Film Festival has been announced!
Howard University’s WHUT Anacostia Digital Media Club took top honors with its film “Be the Change.”
“The group created this video to encourage adults to become mentors to high school students. They can be the change they want to see and empower students to stay in school,” according to the American Graduate website.
A $1 million, three-year donation for Communities In Schools of Nevada will help students there succeed in school.
CIS of Nevada helps nearly 25,000 students in more than 40 schools in southern and northeast Nevada.
The nonprofit connects them with services such as medical and dental care, mental health counseling services, food, clothing, tutoring, career exploration, academic development and other programs.
Western Kansas University hosted a public media campaign to raise awareness of the dropout epidemic.
The university’s Public Broadcasting and the Educational Talent Search partnered together to bring the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s program that paired university students with at-risk middleschoolers. The mentoring relationship continues through high school graduation, according to an article in the College Heights Herald.
Students are trained on video equipment, audio, lighting, interviewing and storytelling. The students interviewed each other and created video diaries about the importance of high school graduation and why students chose to graduation. They will air on the university’s public station.
One of the students, Raymond Smith, a senior at Warren Central high school, said in his video that one of the reasons he wanted to graduate was because his sister dropped out.
Texas school is helping students graduate by helping them feel connected to the school and providing flexibility
A new school in Arlington, Texas, is determined to graduate each and every one of its students.
How is the seven-classroom, 500-student school doing it?
By giving students flexibility and a sense of belonging.
"We don't want any of our students to drop out, and the more opportunities we can provide for those students, the better we are as a district," district spokeswoman Leslie Johnston told NBC Dallas-Ft. Worth.
Social workers are at the school to help kids navigate what can be bumpy social and emotional terrain.
Students also can attend on a temporary basis to earn credits before returning to traditional high school, or they can choose to graduate from the school.