According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2014 U.S. high school graduations rates hit an all-time high of 80% and on target to reach 90% by 2020. However, approximately 1.3 million students still drop out of America’s public high schools each year. The decision a student makes to drop out of school is based on several risk factors that cause them to become disengaged with school. Leading research organizations suggest that these risk factors, similar across the nation, include chronic absenteeism, and socioeconomic status, homelessness, and poor parent engagement.
Let’s take a look at a few ways school districts can use risk factors to improve student drop-out rates.
1. Identify High-Risk Students Early: Early detection can make a great impact on encouraging students to stay in school. One of the most common early identifiers is chronic truancy. Chronically absent kids are 7.4 times more likely to dropout. To improve student attendance experts suggest making efforts improve parent and community engagement, health-related improvement programs, and school-based advising and counseling structures prove to be most effective. Other risk factors include difficulty in reading, social isolation, and grade retention. School administrators should strive to identify these factors as early as preschool.
2. Evaluate the Whole Student: To improve the dropout rate is important to evaluate the whole student. Test scores and attendance alone won’t help identify the risk factors. This information should follow students from school to school to provide an uninterrupted view of their challenges, any measures taken to address those challenges, and their subsequent progress. With this information, districts can identify and share best practices—and eliminate dropouts once and for all. Take a look at this touching story about a teacher that encouraged a student to stay in school and not only graduate from high school but be beyond measure. What a great example of evaluating the whole student can make a huge difference on the impact education can make in the life of children!
3. Tracking and Intervention: To reduce or eliminate risk factors consider implementing an action plan that is tailored specifically to a student’s circumstances. A best practice is using an action plan that has proven successful with another student with a similar situation. Being able to track these initiatives is essential to building a database of proven solutions. Lawmakers in Connecticut have raised a bill to reduce chronic absenteeism. The bill encompasses an intervention plan that incorporates school administrators, families, and the community.
It truly takes a village to ensure student success. What’s your districts dropout prevention plan? Feel free to share!