Sometimes, a news story can be heartening and depressing at the same time. At Detroit’s Southeastern High School, a ‘success academy’ for ninth graders cut the dropout rate dramatically: 56 percent of students moved on to 10th grade compared to 41 percent the year before. Most of those who failed to move on are still in school and some may be able to make up failed classes in summer school or through a special enrichment program.
“Some data suggests they drop out academically in the fourth grade, but their parents keep pushing and they physically drop out in ninth grade,” (Principal Brenda) Gatlin said. “We have to save them.”
The academy’s goal is to take advantage of the smaller setting: This year, teachers got to know freshmen by name. Students were able to focus on their studies rather than deal with peer pressure from upper classmen. And new classes, such as pre-engineering, were offered to challenge them.
Southeastern enrolled 689 students in ninth grade last fall and hopes 400 will graduate in 2009. This month, the class of ’06 was down to 250 students and that was one of the largest graduating classes in years. “Seven years ago, only 60 of about 500 students graduated,” reports the Free Press.