Fighting the Drop-Out Crisis

Education and Literacy

Fighting the Drop-Out Crisis

Describes data-driven efforts to raise high school graduation rates in New York, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon by replacing low-performing schools with smaller schools or offering alternative schools and programs, as well as their outcomes to date.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York;North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York-New York County-New York City;North America-United States (Northwestern)-Oregon;North America-United States (Northeastern)-Pennsylvania;North America-United States (Northeastern)-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia County-Philadelphia;North America-United States (Northwestern)-Oregon-Multnomah County-Portland

Forgotten Youth: Re-Engaging Students Through Dropout Recovery

Children and Youth, Community and Economic Development, Education and Literacy

Forgotten Youth: Re-Engaging Students Through Dropout Recovery

Each year, thousands of Massachusetts students drop out of school. The path forward for these students is difficult, and failing to fully educate the next generation of workers and leaders has substantial long-term consequences for our shared economic and social well-being. To address this, policymakers have devoted significant attention in recent years to raising high school graduation rates through dropout reduction strategies. Missing from this agenda, however, is any significant focus on dropout recovery, the act of re-engaging and re-enrolling students who leave school before graduating. Without a more systemic approach to connect with out-of-school youth, we will continue to struggle to fulfill our commitment to educate all students.

To address this need, Boston Public Schools has established the Re-Engagement Center, a dropout recovery program that strives to re-enroll out-of-school youth through outreach, personal connections, and a variety of educational options that support students to graduation. The Rennie Center conducted a case study of the Re-Engagement Center in Spring 2012, the findings of which are highlighted in the policy brief Forgotten Youth: Re-Engaging Students Through Dropout Recovery.The purpose of this brief is to make a contribution to a growing body of work about dropout recovery. The brief begins by discussing the role of dropout recovery as a strategy to increase the graduation rate, identifies common practices in other dropout recovery models, and documents the development and operation of the Re-Engagement Center. Forgotten Youth then identifies promising practices and ongoing challenges of this program, and concludes by offering considerations -- based on literature and research findings -- for school and district leaders, community partners, and state policymakers.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-Massachusetts-Suffolk County-Boston, North America-United States (Northeastern)-Massachusetts, North America-United States

Portland Public Schools: From Data and Decisions to Implementation and Results on Dropout Prevention

Education and Literacy

Portland Public Schools: From Data and Decisions to Implementation and Results on Dropout Prevention

Many school district leaders, particularly those in urban areas, struggle to reduce dropout rates, but find themselves overwhelmed by the dimensions of the problem. There are, however, a few districts making notable progress towards reducing the number of dropouts and ensuring that students earn high school diplomas in a timely manner.

One of these is the Portland, Oregon, Public Schools (PPS). In the course of a single calendar year (2007-2008) PPS began to have a positive impact in addressing its dropout problem. How? The key was gathering data that illuminated the true scope of the problem, identifying predictive indicators to spot high risk students, and then marshalling teachers, administrators and support services to focus on those individual students entering 9th grade who were at the highest risk of dropping out of high school.

Geographic Focus:

Economic Value of Opportunity Youth, The

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy;Human Services

Economic Value of Opportunity Youth, The

Analyzes immediate and lifetime economic and social burdens of youth who are out of school and unemployed, including lost earnings, taxes, and school subsidies and costs of crime, welfare, social supports, and health care. Outlines policy directions.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

High Leverage Strategies to Address America's Dropout Crisis: A Guide for Funders

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy

High Leverage Strategies to Address America's Dropout Crisis: A Guide for Funders

This guide is designed to help foundations identify investment opportunities that will have the greatest value in advancing efforts to increase graduation rates. There are many different approaches to increase the graduation rate, ranging from early learning opportunities to youth employment programs. Although members of YTFG make investments all along this continuum, our collaborative work has been to stem the tide of young people flowing out of our high schools without a diploma. The recommendations in this guide are based on our collective experiences as we work to increase the graduation rates of struggling students and those who fall off track to graduation.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Act Out, Get Out? Considering the Impact of School Discipline Practices in Massachusetts

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy

Act Out, Get Out? Considering the Impact of School Discipline Practices in Massachusetts

Recently, testimony from three public hearings in Massachusetts suggested that excessive disciplinary action for non-violent offenses, such as tardiness and truancy, exacerbates the dropout crisis. Testimony indicated that students already behind in school are often forced to miss additional days through suspensions, which leads to a loss of credits and an inability to catch up. Some parents, educators, education stakeholders, and coalitions, including the Massachusetts Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery Commission, have called for a closer look at school discipline policies and practice. Many observers have come to believe that fully understanding the role of discipline is an essential step in tackling the problem of why some Massachusetts students are not staying in school. It is within this context that the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy embarked upon its examination of school discipline in Massachusetts.

Act Out, Get Out? Considering the Impact of School Discipline Practices in Massachusetts reviews why discipline policies are necessary, laws governing these policies, and national research on the effects of disciplinary removal. The brief then describes overall trends in the disciplinary removal (suspensions and expulsions) of Massachusetts public school students over time (school year 2005-2006 through 2008-2009) and findings from a more in-depth analysis of discipline data from the 2007-2008 school year. Key findings from data about the 2007-2008 school year include: 1. For the most serious infractions, those involving illegal substances, violence and criminal activities the most common reason for disciplinary removal is violence; 2. Out-of-school suspension is the most frequently used form of disciplinary removal; 3. The number of disciplinary removals peaks at 9th grade and declines in 10th through 12th grade; 4. Particular segments (low-income, special education, male, black, Hispanic) of the student population are removed at disproportionately high rates.

This policy brief highlights essential questions that need to be answered in order to fully understand how discipline policies are being carried out and to tease out the relationship between disciplinary removal, the achievement gap, and dropping out of public schools in Massachusetts. The final section of the brief puts forth considerations for policymakers and K-12 school and district leaders. The brief suggests there is a need for more detailed and complete record keeping of school discipline data as well as for more schools and districts to implement school-wide preventative approaches and alternative education programs for students who have been removed. The brief also questions the extent to which of out-of-school suspensions are used for non-violent, non-criminal offenses, particularly those for Pre-Kindergarten and Elementary School aged students.

The brief was the subject of discussion at a public event on May 26, 2010.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-Massachusetts

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