Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013 - (Page 10)

EDUCATION WEEK JUNE 6, 2013 Diplomas Count > www.edweek.org/go/dc13 n 10 | Pointing the Way to a More Open Future 37% drop out because they thought earning a GED was easier and just as good. If students drop out of high school because they are bored and don’t see what they are learning as relevant to their future, it can be tough to get them interested in more of the same. The Back on Track Through College model aims to re-engage out-ofschool youths ages 16 to 26 by encouraging them to think about a career and earn college credentials as they work toward a high school diploma. Developed by Jobs For the Future, a Boston-based nonprofit education and research organization, the Back on Track program provides individual counseling to help students chart a course of study linked to their own long-term goals. “Young people who have dropped out can be extremely discouraged about their ability and capacity to graduate from high school or go on to postsecondary education,” says Lili Allen, the program’s director. At first, the program focuses on enriched preparation. Students are told they are “college material” and immersed in a college-going culture that emphasizes deep learning over testing. They progress at their own pace in alternative schools and programs, using a competency-based approach, and the curriculum builds to become increasingly challenging. Next, students enroll in credit-bearing college coursework. They Incorporating Academics Into Workplace Rhythms Some students just never fit into the academic pace and instructional mode of traditional schools. That’s why some educators are trying to engage students with programs that more closely mirror the workplace. In the wake of the economic downturn in 2008, the 3,100-student Fred C. Beyer High School in Modesto, Calif., partnered with the Williamsburg, Va.-based for-profit firm AdvancePath Academics Inc. to set up an alternative program for former dropouts and other students significantly behind in credits for graduation. The result was AdvancePath Academy, where students learn in small groups and on their own in classes designed to mimic a typical office workspace—down to the cubicles, computers, and swivel chairs. Each day, students attend four-hour morning, afternoon, or evening “shifts.” They work through classes both online and in-person, and each student collaborates with teachers to create an individual career profile that aligns his or her coursework and life skills with career goals. “Once they start to see some success, they become very transaction-oriented,” says John Murray, AdvancePath’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We go through the data with them: ‘You are supposed to be here five days a week and you’re only here three; if you were here four days a week, here’s when you would graduate, rather than way out here. We can cut down your time by six months if you will just work with us.’ It’s very easy for them to listen to that.” The National Dropout Prevention Network honored the school in 2012 with one of its Crystal Star Awards for “overall effectiveness in improving educational outcomes for at-risk students.” In the 2011-12 school year, 237 students enrolled in the academy, most of them more than a year behind in credits for graduation. By the end of the school year, 135 of those students had graduated with a regular diploma, and about 70 of the remaining students returned the next year, having closed their credit gap —SARAH D. SPARKS by 75 percent. 20%-32% feel they don’t belong in school and can’t keep up. receive intense academic support and help develop good study habits and time-management skills to ensure success in early-college classes. The third phase provides first-year, postsecondary support to improve the odds of persisting in college. First-year students are contacted at least monthly by a designated mentor to help them make good choices and connect with campus support providers. The Back on Track model was developed about four years ago in collaboration with two other youth-serving nonprofits, YouthBuild USA and the National Youth Employment Coalition, and is in use in a handful of cities across the country. Bronx Arena High School, a 125-student New York City public school serving students ages 16 to 21, is offering the first phase of the Back on Track model. Principal Ty Cesene says students get all their individualized coursework upfront and can work at their own pace through the blended curriculum. One teacher takes ownership over a student’s learning, and students are placed in small groups of 25 with a counselor. When successful students return, they often tell the teachers and the counselors that it was the support they received and the lessons in how to self-manage their work that gave them a leg up in college, says —CARALEE ADAMS Cesene. A Lifeline for Teenage Parents When MacKenzie Adams found out she was pregnant at the age of 14, people told her she wouldn’t graduate from high school. “I wanted to prove to them that I could graduate,” Adams says. “I knew I had to support my child. I have to grow up and do what I need to, to provide for him.” The Graduation, Reality, and Dual-Role Skills program, or grads, in Washington state helped her do just that. According to a study from the Washington, D.C.-based America’s Promise Alliance, only 40 percent of teenage mothers nationwide complete high school. In the grads program, 81.7 percent of students participating during 2011-12 finished the year with either a high school diploma, a ged, or plans to stay in grads another school year. Originally developed in Ohio, grads was launched in Washington state in 1983 to teach pregnant and parenting teenagers the skills they need as parents and help connect them to social services while they continue attending high school. There are 25 programs in schools across the state, with a total enrollment of about 500 students. One of the most important facets of the program is the child-care services for student-parents. “The child-care centers are what are costly,” says Mary Nagel, the family and consumer-sciences education program supervisor for the state schools superintendent. “But they are the piece that keeps the teens in school. If the students have child care at their schools, they are more apt to come to school and attend class. If they have to drop their children off somewhere else, then it’s easier to not necessarily make it to class.” The program seeks to give students the foundational skills they’ll need to graduate from high school, raise their families, and gain economic independence. Students participating in the grads program take one class, taught by family and consumer-sciences teachers, and one lab in the child-care center as part of their regular high school class schedule. In the lab, students work in the child-care center with the center’s staff and grads teachers to apply the theories they learned in class. They practice positive interactions with their children, including discipline and proper speech, and then later analyze their lab interactions. “The ultimate role of the program is to give kids confidence in their parenting abilities, to help them gain academic confidence so they stay in school, and help them think about and transition to the next steps in their lives,” Nagel says. Adams, now 17 and preparing to graduate from the grads program in Aberdeen, Wash., says it has been “really helpful.” “I know what to expect with my child, what I should watch for, how to talk to him and understand him,” she says. “I’d be a way different parent without the grads program.” 34% drop out because of pregnancy, parenting, and other life events. —ALYSSA MORONES SOURCES FOR STATISTICS ON THESE PAGES: National Center for Education Statistics; Education Week Reasons to Stay Dropouts give a common array of reasons for leaving school. Targeted dropoutrecovery programs have been created in response. http://www.edweek.org/go/dc13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013

Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013
Contents
A ‘Neglected’ Population Goes Back to School
Age Can Determine Access To Free Education, Diploma Pathways
State Statistics and Strategies
High School Equivalency Test Gets a Makeover
Reasons to Stay: Tailored Interventions
Online Providers Find a Market In Returning Dropouts
Second-Chance Challenge: Keeping Students in School
A Chicago Charter Network Stanches The Flow of Dropouts
Sound-Engineering Class Hooks Reluctant Student
Teenage Father Makes Journey From Dropout to Top Student
Honor Student Disconnects, Re-engages at CCA
Graduation Rate Approaching Milestone
TABLE: Graduation in the United States
DATA: Detailed Analytic Portrait
TABLE: Graduation Policies For the Class of 2013
Sources and Notes

Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013

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