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The high school dropout problem is a severe epidemic for the United States, as nationwide, it is reported that only 71 percent of students graduate from high school. Understanding the magnitude of the problem and the forces that impact dropout rates is critically important to developing effective strategies. High school students are dropping out at alarming rates every day across the country. There is urgency for obtaining more accurate, consistent, and timely data to analyze who is dropping out and the reasons contributing to these life-altering decisions.
To curb the alarming dropout rate, school systems should focus prevention efforts in the beginning of the middle grades if not earlier. The key indicators that researchers have identified as indicative of who is most likely to drop out are: poor grades in core subjects, low attendance, failure to be promoted to the next grade, and disengagement in the classroom, including behavioral problems. These key indicators can assist decision makers in targeting prevention resources to the students most at risk of imminently leaving school. Some very useful prevention strategies include: small learning communities and school within a school for greater personalization, partnerships between high schools and feeder middle schools, ninth grade transition programs, support for students with disabilities outside of school.
Dr. Nettie Legters, Research Scientist, The Center for Social Organization of Schools, Johns Hopkins University and Co-Director of the Center's Talent Development High Schools (TDHS) program answered questions and facilitated an online dialogue regarding dropout prevention.
Questions on Dropout Prevention
- Question 1: I am concerned with the high incidence of dropout among students with SLD, ADDH and other mild disabilities. Do you have specific strategies to prevent or lower this high incidence?
- Question 2: Please tell me as a middle school counselor what more I can do to support the high school programs; and what are some other ideas I can use to offer to students, teachers and families in middle school who are at high risk.
- Question 3: Do you have any recommendations for our group about how to measure the impact of a transition strategy, program, or approach?
- Question 4: Are there any best practices we can learn from other countries for keeping students in school?
- Question 5: What is the role of communities and businesses in keeping students enrolled in school? Are there specific partnerships in which you have seen effective use of local businesses and communities in maintaining student interest in High School?
Useful Resources on Dropout Prevention: