Recent Posts for Blog Editor

Why we can't measure dropout recovery students the same way as we measure others

Two credits.

That’s just a third of what students in most traditional high schools need to earn each year to stay on track for graduation — and it’s what participants in most of the dropout recovery programs in Duval County, Florida, earned over the past year.

In a Duval County School Board meeting on Tuesday, board chair Becki Couch said the district “should be appalled by these numbers," according to a report from WJCT

That’s a reaction that reflects a common misunderstanding of what dropout recovery is and what it can achieve.

Among the incredibly diverse population of young men and women who have left school without a diploma there are certainly some — though likely a very small number — who can recovery credits just as quickly as students who have never left school and always stayed on track for graduation. There are others, though, for whom even earning two credits per year would be a significant accomplishment.

Here’s why:

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In fans' reaction to a player's downfall, a lesson in compassion for us all

The laughter came first.

In Utah the intercollegiate rivalry known as “The Holy War” is as bitterly cold as a February morning on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. So when Brigham Young University’s former star quarterback — who once infamously ranted that he “hates” everything about “classless” University of Utah fans — recently found himself arrested for drugs and petty theft, opposing fans reveled in the comeuppance.

Then, almost as fast in response, came the effusive compassion.

Max Hall was sick, BYU fans said. He was troubled. He was battling demons. Perhaps he was wrestling with the depression that sometimes comes to athletes when sports dreams don’t come true. Maybe he was self-medicating, as so many athletes do, for chronic pain. Some BYU fans even suggested taking up a collection to help defray the former NFL quarterback’s legal bills.

These diametric reactions spoke volumes about a society that rarely passes up the opportunity to kick folks when they’re down, but one that can also be abundant in its sympathy — for the right kind of victim.

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Want to help a student in your community? Here are five ways to start.

Go find your Nico.

That was the challenge issued by America's Promise Alliance founder Gen. Colin Powell, America's Promise board chair Alma Powell, and Target community relations director Laysha Ward in an op-ed in The Washington Post this week.

Through the story of a formerly homeless teen named Nico Rodriguez — who graduated high school thanks to the support of a mentor from a teen center in Lowell, Massachusetts — the writers called on everyone in the country to take an at-risk student under their wing.

They noted that the billions of dollars invested in dropout prevention efforts over the past decade have helped reduce the number of students leaving school without a diploma — but that hasn't ended the nation's dropout epidemic. To do that, they argued, we must stop looking to policies and programs and start looking at people.

One by one. One on one. We can make a difference.

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Later school start times are important — but we cannot make students chose between education and work

Photo by Melvin Green More schools are considering later start times — a long-debated but little-settled policy change that advocates say can improve health, decrease vehicle accidents and increase student academic performance.

Indeed, those were the findings of researchers led by Kyla Wahlstrom of the University of Minnesota. In February, Wahlstrom and her team released a report showing staggering improvements in these areas for students at schools with start times of 8:35 a.m. or later. (Editor's note: We'd very much like to see more research reflecting how later start times impact students at schools with high dropout rates — all of the schools reviewed in this report had graduation rates in line or far above the national average.)

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There should be no complacency for middle school dropout epidemic

Photo by Bina Sveda"Schools don't have the resources to go out and find those no-shows."

That's how one teacher described the situation in California, where more than 6,400 children leave school each year before even entering high school, according to an article by The Hechinger Report, a non-profit news organization focused on in-depth coverage of education issues.  

Her words are a sad reflection of the complacency with which our society faces this issue. Even though California has a law mandating school attendance through the age of 18, schools all too often treat the students who leave in junior high — before most dropout prevention programs even get started — as lost causes, doomed to their fate for lack of any viable way to help them.

Except, of course, that there are viable ways. There are many viable ways. And if we can't all agree that these are the students for whom we should be pulling out all the stops, then we should have our collective heads examined. 

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How should we respond to the surge of unaccompanied immigrant students?

David's 3,100-mile journey took him from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to the U.S. border with Mexico by foot, bus and car.

And, finally, in an old tire — which he used to float across the Rio Grande.

The 12-year-old boy, who recently was reunited with his parents in Washington, D.C., is one of 55,000 unaccompanied immigrant children who have arrived in the United States from Central America since last fall. His story was detailed in an Education Week article today.

The article is more than a riveting human story. It is a call for everyone in education to determine what, in the short term, must be done to support these boys and girls as they enter into the U.S. school system and what, in the long term, can be done to ensure that they reach graduation.

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Raising awareness is a key goal of making dropout recovery efforts public

About 350 volunteers went door to door in Des Moines this weekend to encourage students who have left school before graduation to return to their studies.

"Dropout recovery walks," such as the one held annually in Des Moines, don't usually result in large numbers of graduates. A similar effort in Las Vegas, a few years ago, targeted 289 at-risk teens who had dropped out of school — only 17 of whom returned to school and remained there six months later.

But that's not the point of these sorts of events – or, at least, it shouldn't be.

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A lesson in dropout prevention, from The Simpsons

Bart Simpson writes on a blackboardI will not waste chalk. 

I will not skateboard in the halls.

I will not burp in class.

As the cable network FXX begins its historic Simpsons marathon today, fans will get a chance to re-live every instance, from hundreds of title sequences, in which Bart detailed his mischievous misdeeds on the fourth grade classroom blackboard.

He's been doing it since 1989 — writing lines in penance for everything from flatulence to selling land in Florida. With each new episode, though, Bart is back at school. The slate has been wiped clean.

It's a great running gag — one fans have been looking forward to each week for a quarter century. But the joke belies a fact about our real world that is anything but funny:

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California needs to track its middle school dropouts to help prevent them from doing so

We all know how many students drop out of high school each year.

Every state produces an annual report detailing graduation and dropout rates for high schoolers.

But what about students who drop out before then?

In California, a state law passed in 2009 required the state office of education to publish a middle-school dropout rate. But the state office never has, according to the Hechinger Report.

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Katy Perry helps educators with her "Make Roar Happen" initiative

Usually, NoDropouts doesn’t celebrate celebrities who have dropped out of high school and then made it big. Those are a one in a billion chance of happening, and students shouldn’t be encouraged to drop out of school with the hopes of striking it rich one day.

However, Katy Perry, who dropped out as a freshman, is working to give back to educators through her “Make Roar Happen” initiative. She has teamed up with Staples to fund $1 million in educational projects across the country based on posts to DonorsChoose.org, according to Inquisitr.

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