Dropping in, dropping out

Boston’s program to lure dropouts back to school is weak on follow-through, reports the Boston Globe. Sylvester Cooper was enrolled in a school 90 minutes from his home, so he didn’t attend. Then he was transferred to a closer school that promised to keep tabs on him, but didn’t. He was allowed to cut class without consequences. His mentor didn’t contact him for months. His grandmother, who’s raised him since his mother abandoned him as an infant, says she didn’t hear from the school about his absences.

With less than three months left in the school year, Cooper’s future remains in limbo. He is neither in nor out of school. He drops in only when he wants to.

He says he still wants to go to college and perhaps study criminal justice, but realizes he has made no progress toward that goal this year.

(Emmanuel) Allen, even as he’s trying to stay on Cooper and other returning dropouts, is getting ready to locate more than 1,000 students who have dropped out this school year — and persuade them to re-enroll. He sets a modest threshold for success with Cooper:

“If he decides to blow this year, fine,” Allen said. “There is no deadline. To me, a win is if he’s not shot and if he’s not locked up. As long as he’s able to make a decision, I’ll call him.”

At the age of 16, Cooper has spent two years semi-enrolled in ninth grade with no credits to show for it. An above-average student in elementary school, he stopped trying in middle school but was passed along despite his F’s.

What’s the point of persuading dropouts to return to school if they’re allowed to blow off an entire year?

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  1. ucladvaid says:

    “An above-average student in elementary school, he stopped trying in middle school but was passed along despite his F’s.”

    As 7th grade students, they can fail all of her classes with no consequences. They are not forced to go to saturday school or tutoring or summer school. They are passed along to the 8th grade. If they fail in the 8th grade, the only thing is they cannot walk on stage. Even that is a joke when many parents think they have actually graduated middle school instead of just completing it. Even if they don’t walk on stage, they are still passed on to 9th grade. Still they didn’t learn anything the last 2 years, that is where many dropouts start. They do not want to still be taking 9th grade classes when they should be in 10th grade so they drop out. If you start holding kids more accountable with grades in 6th/7th grade, there would be a lot less dropouts in high school.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Of course the school gives back the money they took for his attendance, didn’t they?
    Or do they take roll in graveyards the way some folk register voters?

  3. Prof210 says:

    I wonder if it would help if each “superstar” teacher was required to teach one section of “at risk” students — along with the regular roster of AP and Honors classes. Perhaps those in danger of dropping out would sit in on one or a few classes taught by the most inspiring teachers and be inspired themselves.

    I agree that holding students back is not an ideal solution — but by high school at least, passing students along without requiring them to demonstrate any mastery may no longer be defensible.