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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

A high drop out rate

A high drop out rate

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I’m considering a project for my students to create inspirational posters to be displayed possibly at the high school, middle school and maybe a few public areas in the county. I thought this would be a good way to bring the student’s and the public’s attention to such huge problem in our community. I know it is not much and I wish that I could do more to combat our high dropout rate, but I thought this would be a start. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on this? Good idea, bad idea. Would it be too much information for 4th or 5th grade students to understand that, with current stats in our county,close to 100 students from their class may not make it to high school graduation?

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Bill Betzen's picture
Bill Betzen
7th grade computer teacher, Dallas, Texas, with dropout prevention hobby.

Melissa, anything you do to help focus students onto their own futures will help. After 40+ years working with children I am certain this is the heart of any answer to the dropout crisis. Five years ago we started a project, in 2005, in our Dallas inner city middle school. We bolted a 350-pound vault to the floor in our school lobby to function as a time-capsule for student goals. The project has evolved and spread to 6 more schools in Dallas, now with 500-pound vaults. It is recommended that it starts with letters from parents to their child about their goals for their child. The student then uses that letter to write to themselves about their own goals and plans for the future. Both letters are then placed into the same self-addressed envelope and into the vault. This happens twice, once on entering middle school, and then again just before leaving middle school. That final set of letters stays in the vault for 10 years until the students 10-year class reunion.

At that reunion students know they will receive the letters back. They know they will then be invited to speak with the current students in their former middle school about their recommendations for success. They are warned to be prepared for questions such as "What would you do differently if you were 13 again?"

The priceless feedback these former students will be providing our school, starting in November of 2014, will help our school to constantly improve what we are teaching to meet the real world Dallas students are entering. Other details about this simple $1 per student project are at www.studentmotiation.org (a primitive web site that desperately needs improvements.)

Hubert V. Yee's picture
Hubert V. Yee
social media and marketing manager of startup

hi Bill,

Thank you so much for your feedback! This is a great way to have children/youth be involved in the reduction of dropout prevention. I hope other schools and districts can implement something of this sorts! I believe that mentors are also essential to the reduction also.

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