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Regent University

While drop-out prevention

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While drop-out prevention rates start as early as first grade......I agree that there are some measures that may be taken to address this issue. The ABC's (Attendance, Behavior, and Course Performance) are key elements regarding red flags. I am pleased to know that regardless of socioeconomic gaps, high school drop out rates are in decline! Let's keep up the good work. Great article to promote awareness in dropout prevention.

Instructional Effectiveness Specialist/Chicago Public Schools

Empower Students

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As a former HS English teacher in a school that had far too many dropouts, I recognize many of the strategies listed above and encourage administrators to think along these lines. I have one additional strategy to suggest that fits well with the focus on ABC's listed above. It's CRITICAL that students have access to up to date information about their grades. It's also critical that they are encouraged to access and reflect on their grades on a regular basis.

There is a big shift in the consequences for failing a class between 8th and 9th grade. 9th grade is often the first time that earning an F on a report card means taking the class over again. Students customarily pass through middle school from one grade to the next unless there are serious issues manifested by multiple failing grades. Then, in 9th grade, rather surprisingly for some students, an F means having to re-take an entire semester's school work. I wish I could tell you the number of 9th (or more disturbingly, 10th) graders I've known who weren't aware that the difference between a 70% and a 69% at the end of the semester is so dramatic. Typically the opportunities to make up that credit either cause the student to fall further behind or take place during the summer. I have known many students who didn't understand this transition and finished their first semester of high school missing 2-3-4 credits.

The strategy I suggest to address this is to ensure that students have access to a web-based system where they can check their grades on a regular basis. I have worked with School Loop and Power School and recommend both. Parents should also be able to check grades and, in low-income communities, should be trained at the school to learn the system. Concurrently, teachers must pledge to keep an updated grade book and to promptly respond to student/parent inquiries to get assignments fixed.

There are profound conversations to be had with 8th and 9th graders as they are determining what kind of a persona they'll carry through high school. In an increasingly wired society where students spend so much time on cell phones, schools need to encourage students to use those cell phones to check up on their grades. I used to tell my students that every time they check Facebook, they should also check their grades. Effective implementation of data systems like School Loop that allow students to have accurate academic information is a critical strategy that makes a concrete difference in reducing student failure rates.

Finger Pointing

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I agree that dropout prevention starts early. However, I disagree with singling out specific grades or areas or bringing attention to specific grades or areas. This just leads to finger pointing or the "not in my backyard" mentality. As an educator, dropout prevention is something that should be addressed at your grade level and in your subject area regardless of grade level or subject area. It is an issue that needs to be dealt with in the "here and now". Unfortunately, in high schools, a mentality creeps in that by the time the students is in high school it is too late to do anything. On the other side, middle school teachers have a tendency to adopt a "its a high school problem" attitude. This mentality also invades our elementary schools. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE OR TOO EARLY!

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