Graduation coaches

To stem a 29 percent dropout rate, Georgia is staffing high schools with graduation coaches; they try to keep at-risk students on track and arrange tutoring. The governor wants to start graduation coaching in middle school, when many students start to drift.

Teachers, is this a good idea or a gimmick?

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Comments

  1. How is this different than the guidance counselor? One “Graduation Coach” per school will be unlikely to develop the relationships necessary to motivate at risk students.

  2. Maybe they need parent coaches?

  3. it can be highly effective for all students — working best when it is woven into the teacher mentor role and the guidance counslor focuses on training the teachers: which provides an effective span of control and much more powerful approach … more personal and more scalable.

  4. I was wondering when some new category of non-teaching professional would appear on the public education scene.

    The well-spring of inventiveness that brought forth the Superintendent in Charge of Safe, Clean and Healthy Schools and Chief Pedagogical Officer could hardly be empty.

    And lo! Comes the fully-formed graduation coach, ready to “keep at-risk students on track and arrange tutoring”. Well, that’s important, isn’t it?

  5. wayne martin says:

    > Comes the fully-formed graduation coach, ready to
    > “keep at-risk students on track and arrange tutoring”.

    And how long before this new class of “coach” starts complaining that they are overworked and underpaid?

    Wonder what happens in five years when the graduation rate hasn’t changed much? Stop funding these positions, or increase their numbers, because “more equals better” in the Education Industry?

  6. I think it could be a great idea, depending on how it worked. Some students I have worked with really flourish under the guidance of that special person who can mentor them through all 4+ years of high school. They need someone who is a constant, stable presence in their lives, and who can help them with the academic and behavioral problems that arise. I’ve seen kids who were unlikely to graduate become very successful students with the right mentor.

    The mentors I’m talking about, though, have been teachers who take an interest in the kid and make themselves available outside of class time. These are teachers who take it upon themselves to run interference for the kid and put in extra time to be helpful. I have not seen anyone do this as an actual job.

    It’s easy for kids to slip through the cracks in high school. It helps to have one person, who knows them well, on the case.

    If the graduation coach is able to build such relationships, then I am all for it. But if the graduation coach sits in an office all day, arranges the occasional meeting, and just sends the kid off to tutors for help… I am doubtful that it will do much of anything.

  7. wayne martin says:

    > Some students I have worked with really flourish
    > under the guidance of that special person who
    > can mentor them through all 4+ years of high
    > school. They need someone who is a constant,
    > stable presence in their lives, and who can help
    > them with the academic and behavioral problems
    > that arise.

    There was a time that this description came close to that of “a parent”.

  8. Indigo Warrior says:

    I second that motion.

    There may be, however, something to the mentoring idea. These children do need someone older and wiser they can look up to on a personal level. But this is really incompatible with the impersonal school-and-classroom concept,

  9. SuperSub says:

    Sounds alot like the intended job description of a guidance counselor. At the schools I’ve worked at, though, the guidance staffs have been bombarded with misbehaving students and toxic family situations.
    Schools are taking on many more problems that they used to, and as a result faculty and staff are stretched beyond their intended limits.
    This new position seems to simply dedicate a staff member or two to a necessary duty that some schools had abandoned years ago.

  10. La Tisha says:

    In high school I had a teacher who essentially filled this role. I was involved in the AVID (advancement via individual determination) program and this teacher stayed with our class all four years of high school. Each year he was there to teach, inspire, motivate and whip us into shape. We came from an inner-city school where graduations rates were low, and college entrance even lower. However for the thirty of us in the class, the majority went on to four year universities. For me it was nice to have a teacher who cared, who was there whenever we needed him and who took it as more than a job. If these coaches that they intend to hire can really connect to the students then it can work. However, as others have said, if this is just one person per school there is no way that they can do it all.

  11. I don´t like the idea. I work in Brazil, and I think that the system here spend too much money with the worst students possible, while ignoring the hard-working people. Students should know for themselves that what they do in classrooms will affect their lives.

    But we are talking about different realities, I guess.

  12. No, Andre Kenji, I do not believe we are talking about different realities. People here have similar concerns. It doesn’t seem fair to devote so many resources to those who often seem to appreciate things the least — and often at the expense of others who really appreciate their education and the opportunities it provides and whose hard work makes them more deserving.

    I think that the strongest argument, though, for going to such lengths for at-risk students, is the idea that it benefits us all. If we can reduce dropouts we might reduce the number of non-productive citizens, including criminals. If I can turn a kid around — help a gangbanger change the direction of his life — I have not only saved him but those who would have been his victims.

  13. I think it’s a very good idea.

    I have students who are falling through the cracks and it’s sad to see.

    I don’t have the opportunity to give them the individual attention they need.

    Would graduation coaches make a difference for at-risk students? Yes. (For about 80%-90% of students who would otherwise drop out.)

    Would it cost more money? Yes. (An increase of about 5% of staff salary.)

    Would that money be taken away from regular students? Yes. (Simple math.)

    If we want to meet the needs of all students, we have to face the fact that some students cost more.

    If we want to spend the same for all students, the at-risk students will fail.

  14. You think it’s a very good idea with no notion of what can be expected?

    Is it a good program if it changes the drop-out rate by one percentage point? Five percent? Fifty percent? At what level does it become worth the reduction in teacher’s salaries necessary to pay the graduation coaches?

    Before any serious resources are committed to this new specialty mightn’t it be wise to run some small-scale trials? Just because it sounds good doesn’t mean it will be good.

    Oh, and just to be disagreeable, any small-scale trial ought to conducted like real science with a full disclosure of all data, methodologies and decisions available for criticism and replication.