More time, more dropouts

Fifteen Detroit schools lengthened the school day by 24 minutes and the year by 35 days, writes Sarah Butrymowicz on the Hechinger Report. The state took over the failing schools in 2012.

Southeastern High School of Technology and Law lost 400 students — half its enrollment — in the last two years. About half the missing students transferred, estimates Jeff Maxwell, who recently resigned as principal. The other half dropped out.

“A year-round school with a sound program is a great idea,” said Chris Savage, community activist and author of the Eclectablog. “They need to get their program in order.”

The state’s Education Achievement Authority is trying new approaches.

Grade levels were dropped as teachers were encouraged to divide students strategically and to let them collaborate in small groups. All students use an online curriculum to go through lessons at their own pace.

. . . Computer usage starts with an hour a day in kindergarten, but high schoolers at Southeastern might spend most of the day on netbooks. This means that high school teachers are responsible for monitoring students’ progress and meeting with them one-on-one, rather doing whole-class lectures.

In a daily advising session devoted to social and emotional learning, students discuss topics such as “bullying, fighting and skin color,” writes Butrymowicz.


Students at Southeastern High School of Technology and Law in Detroit discuss their self-esteem during the daily advisory period. The school is using its expanded learning time to address social and emotional issues through group discussions. (Photo: Sarah Butrymowicz)

Students at Detroit’s Southeastern High discuss their self-esteem during the daily advisory period. (Photo: Sarah Butrymowicz)

In the 2012-13 school year, the Education Achievement Authority claimed that 64 percent of students achieved at least a year’s worth of growth in reading and 68 percent did so in math on internal assessments.

But the students’ state standardized test scores told a different story, concluded Thomas Pedroni, an associate professor at Wayne State. He found that 58.5 percent of students showed no reading progress from 2012 to 2013, and 78.3 percent made no gains in math. More than four in five students who scored proficient in math in 2012 did worse in 2013.

Malik Canty, 17, stuck with Southeastern.  He told Butrymowicz he’d read only one book on his own, Percy Jackson and the Titans Curse, in his first 12 years of public school. By graduation this month, he’ll be up to two.

He plans to go on to community college.  Eventually, he’d like to study medicine at the University of Michigan.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Mark Roulo says:

    Malik Canty, 17, stuck with Southeastern. He told Butrymowicz he’d read only one book on his own, Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse, in his first 12 years of public school. By graduation this month, he’ll be up to two.

    He plans to go on to community college. Eventually, he’d like to study medicine at the University of Michigan.

    Sigh.
     
    I think maybe he doesn’t know quite what his competition for medical school slots looks like academically :-(

  2. Ah, now I understand where packet learning came from…inner city schools where students don’t have to pay attention to teacher. I don’t think much can else can be done if students aren’t willing to learn from a live teacher. At least this gives the motivated students a chance to earn a degree without the others hindering learning.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Mr. Canty does not know how things work. Very likely he does not know much at all about much at all. So it makes for difficulty in trying to figure out what one’s next step will be.
    A friend had a student who figured he didn’t need to get grades–he was averaging zero–because he was going to go to Hollywood and be a celebrity manager.
    How can you deal with such ignorance?

  4. Mr. Canty will never get into medical school, even if he gets accepted to the local community college, he’ll probably bomb the MCAT, and that will be the end of that.

    Students discussing their self-esteem in class is a worthwhile cause (not)…We never had any of that garbage when I was in high school. In fact, teachers went out of their ways to point out idiots in classes I had :)

    • You are assuming he is not quick witted when he could simply be the product of the public school system.

      Question, how many med school students attended a school where they wasted part of the day in this manner: “a daily advising session devoted to social and emotional learning”.

      It’s unlikely, but this kid could do something, although he is behind, once he is free of the “do-gooders” who abuse him with low expectations and trendy, unacademic activities.

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        Done right, “social and emotional learning” can be a good thing. It is what successful parents unconsciously do with their kids. “I know you’re mad that Suzy took your toy but you shouldn’t hit her…” Poor people are often held back by unhelpful perceptions and actions, e.g., interpreting misunderstandings as slights, having an over-reaction to supposed disrespects.

        Daniel Goleman has created an empire beginning with his 1995 best-setter “Emotional Intelligence.” It’s a worthwhile book, though like just about every best-seller and self-help book, it is over-stated.

  5. This young Mr. Canty is already at a disadvantage with his limited reading skills. The fact that he has only read 2 books in 12 years of schooling is an indictment of public school system and this young man’s family. I hope he has a willingness to learn because he has A LOT of catching up to do.

Speak Your Mind

*