While high school dropouts prep for the GED exam at a New York City community college, they also prepare for job training in specific fields, such as health care, business or technology. More students are passing the high school equivalency exam and going on to take college courses at LaGuardia Community College, which has become a “GED machine.”
What Does It Take to Get Kids to Stop Skipping School? asks Emily Richmond in The Atlantic
In New York City public schools, one in five students missed a month or more of school last year. However, an intensive, community-wide initiative is raising attendance, according to new report by Johns Hopkins’ Everyone Graduates Center.
New York City’s pilot program includes “mentors, support services, staff training, better tracking and sharing of data of individual student attendance, and community outreach—particularly to parents,” writes Richmond. It’s expanded to 100 schools with more than 60,000 students.
Low-income students were 15 percent less likely to be absent at pilot schools, compared to similar students at similar campuses. Absenteeism fell 31 percent for students living in homeless shelters.
Assigning mentors to work one-on-one with students was the most successful intervention, with kids adding an average of nine days (nearly two full school weeks) of attendance per school year. High school students working with mentors were 52 percent more likely to be enrolled the following academic year than their comparison peers, suggesting the program also contributed to dropout prevention.
Some mentors are AmeriCorps volunteers, social work students, retired professionals, etc. Others are teachers, coaches, security officer and other school staffers. Twelfth graders also serve as peer mentors for younger students.
Raising attendance lowers the dropout rate, the report found. Students who’d been chronic absentees before the pilot started were 20 percent more likely to be enrolled three years later if they attended pilot schools, compared to similar students at non-pilot schools.
The U.S. is overspending on higher ed, argues Jordan Weissmann in The Atlantic. “We devote more of our economy to postsecondary education than any other developed country (except South Korea, with whom we’re tied),” but we’re rated near the bottom in college spending “efficiency.” That’s degrees earned per percentage point of GDP spent. The chart’s weighted measure gives more credit for graduating students from four-year, rather than two-year, colleges, which boosts the U.S. rank.
“Unlike, say, Germany with its renowned apprenticeship systems,” the U.S. doesn’t offer “alternatives to college if you want a middle-class life,” writes Weissmann. “So ill-prepared young adults flood into degree programs they never finish, leaving the U.S. with some of the lowest completion rates in the developed world.” That means, “we’re spending extraordinary amounts of money to produce college dropouts.”
In 1912, 8th graders in rural Kentucky were expected to know things about the Gulf Stream, the secretions of the liver, copyright, the battle of Quebec and how to spell (and define) “adjective.”
Were children smarter then? asks the Daily Mail.
Certainly, learning by rote was fashionable. Critical thinking was not. One commenter argued it’s not a bad thing to memorize basic geography.
Doing so allows me to read a newspaper article and understand where it is taking place. Memorizing historical facts allows me to interpret that article and put modern day occurrences into context.
She continued: ‘I work with a lot of “smart” kids who might read about the situation in Israel/Palestine, but can’t find those places on a map, and have no idea about their basic history. Thus, no context, rendering “smart” somewhat irrelevant.’
Others argued poor and working-class children dropped out before 8th grade. However, 845 of 1,032 children aged 10 to 14 in Bullitt County were attending school in 1910. By contrast, only half of children 15 to 17 were in school.
In 2008, Washoe County, Nevada (Reno) realized it was graduating a little more than half its students in four years; 18 high schools were dubbed “dropout factories.”
In response, the district launched a massive graduation initiative: early-warning data systems to alert principals to at-risk students, graduation advisers to keep students from leaving, and intense outreach to bring back the students who had already left.
“We’ve gotten pretty good at finding and recovering students through our re-engagement centers, but we still find it a big challenge to keep them from redropping out once we’ve found them,” says coordinator Jennifer Harris. “Many of the reasons that led students to disengage in the first place are still there when the students come back.”
A number of cities, including Boston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon have set up “re-engagement centers” to help dropouts “find a new school or online classes; connect with social workers and therapists when needed; and plan for college and a career.”
Boston’s South Roxbury re-engagement center, which is next to a technical high school and evening campus, brought in 501 of 867 dropouts contacted. Most, 441, were referred to district schools, alternative campuses, and charters, 60 were referred to adult ed or GED programs and the rest used an online lab and credit-recovery courses. Fifty-four students graduated by the end of the school year; 38 more were on track to graduate by August.
In Chicago, where slightly more than 60 percent of students graduated from high school on time last year, a network of charter schools specializes in serving recovered dropouts or students who were struggling in their traditional schools. The 22 schools in the Youth Connection Charter School network are small, and each draws on community groups and local colleges and universities to provide an array of supports and services, including opportunities for students to earn college credits as they are making up their missing high school credits.
YCCS claims a higher graduation rate than the Chicago Public Schools.
Ed Week‘s interactive game, A Difficult Path, shows the steps that lead to dropping out, starting with not asking the teacher for help with a difficult class.
Letting high-school-age teens take the GED encourages dropouts, some economists and educators fear. A quarter of GED test-takers are 16 to 18 years old, reports the Washington Post. They’re passing up a high school diploma for a much less valuable credential: GED holders earn as little as dropouts who didn’t pass the test and very few go on to earn a higher degree.
“We are making it easy for them to make a mistake,” said James Heckman, a Nobel-Prize winning economist at the University of Chicago.
If cognitive skills were enough, people who demonstrate high school equivalence by passing the GED would perform equally well in the workplace or in college, he said. Instead, dropping out of high school usually portends a lifelong pattern of dropping out, he said. Studies shows high school dropouts have higher rates of job turnover, college attrition, turnover in the military and even divorce, compared with those who stuck it out in high school.
“Sitting in school and showing up on time and doing in school what people ask you to do — those are useful, if dull, tedious traits to have,” Heckman said.
The GED isn’t easy: To pass, test takers must outperform about 40 percent of graduating seniors. It’s being revised to conform to Common Core Standards, which is expected to make it harder.
AmeriCorps volunteers will help raise graduation rates at the nation’s worst schools, said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. With $15 million in federal funding, the School Turnaround AmeriCorps will send 650 members into 60 schools.
Duncan said AmeriCorps members will improve school safety, attendance and discipline, help students improve their reading and math skills and increase college enrollment by helping students and their parents apply for financial aid.
AmeriCorps members must be 18 to 24 years old. They don’t have to be high school graduates, much less college graduates. They get a subsistence wage, plus college aid or help paying student loans. It’s hard to believe they’ll be effective tutors, though perhaps they could patrol the halls and restrooms.
High school dropouts are costing some $1.8 billion in lost tax revenue every year, estimates a new report, which foresees a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.
It’s not that simple, education economist Henry Levin tells the Huffington Post. “It’s like saying, if my 3-foot-tall child were 6 feet tall, my child would be able to do all sorts of things.”
Or, as they used to say: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
Aa the fishing industry declined in New Bedford, Massachusetts, high school dropout rates rose. Now a Middle College program is attracting high-risk students by offering a chance to complete a high school diploma while earning community college credits.
About to become a father, Darius Payne explains why he enrolled in Middle College. “I don’t want to be a bum raising a child. I want to have something, show something to my child.”
Jeffrey Brooks’ Black School White School: Racism and Educational (Mis) Leadership describes an integrated high school that’s hideously dysfunctional, writes Stuart Buck in a TCR Record review.
Black and white school leaders don’t meet to discuss problems across racial lines, both sides tell Brooks. It would be consorting with “the enemy.”
Students don’t want to do schoolwork. The overstaffed administration does little work either.
The (health education magnet leader) resigned after a mere three months for lack of support. She “was never replaced, and, in fact, her students roamed the halls during her assigned instructional hours.”
. . . Administrators declined to hand out National Merit Awards to two students at an assembly, because they had neglected to learn how to pronounce the students’ names (one was Kenyan, the other Japanese)
Academic excellence isn’t valued: The black principal, whose only teaching experience is in P.E., tells a black teacher to quit the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, which has equal numbers of white and black students, because she’s not “keeping it real.”
Worse, the principal tries to meet accountability targets by forcing the worst students to drop out before the head count for the state exam.
“This reveals the paradox of school-level accountability,” writes Buck. “Just where the threat of accountability is most needed” — when school leaders are incompetent or dishonest — ” it is the most hopeless.”
Nineteen percent of higher education spending goes for students who fail to earn a certificate or degree, according to a new report.