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Reason to Stay in School: What Educators Can Do To Reduce Dropout Rates

NCJ Number
A Presson; G Bottoms
Date Published
14 pages
Federal and State government officials acknowledge that the high school dropout rate is a serious problem; in particular, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) in Atlanta and the Center on Education and Training at Ohio State University has worked with six schools in the SREB region for 3 years to keep potential dropouts in school and to improve their academic achievement.
The SREB first identified key practices of successful middle and high school dropout prevention programs and developed a plan to implement them at six demonstration sites. Nine key practices were identified that focused on creating a learning environment for potential dropouts to encourage them to master mathematics, science, and communications. The six demonstration sites included two comprehensive high schools, two high schools served by an area vocational center, one area vocational center, and one junior high school. Four schools had fewer than 800 students, and two schools had between 1,000 and 2,000 students. SREB officials provided technical assistance and staff development to schools throughout the 3-year project. They learned that local barriers often impeded progress in dropout prevention and that some schools were more successful than others in overcoming these barriers. In addition, SREB personnel found that participating schools having the greatest decline in dropout rates had several similarities in how they approached the problem. The following practices were successful in preventing students from dropping out of school: (1) identify, target, and monitor potential dropouts early in their high school careers; (2) establish higher basic competency expectations; (3) enroll potential dropouts in a planned program of vocational and academic study; (4) use applied instructional strategies to teach basic competencies; (5) expand students' personal views of their educational potential; (6) use an interdisciplinary team of vocational, nonvocational, and support personnel to plan and monitor the school curriculum; (7) implement a program of personal attention and extra instructional support; (8) involve business and community leaders in keeping students in school; and (9) involve parents in dropout prevention. 7 references