Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013 - (Page 6)

EDUCATION WEEK JUNE 6, 2013 Diplomas Count > www.edweek.org/go/dc13 n 6 | 501 of the 867 dropouts its staff members contacted. Most, 441, were referred to district schools, alternative campuses, and charters, but because of oftenlong waiting lists, the center has an online lab and credit-recovery courses available, too. Sixty students were referred to adult education or ged programs. Fifty-four students graduated by the end of the school year; 38 more were on track to graduate by August. “The way we are, and the way we deal with young people, sends out the aura that, ‘You’re here, you’re an adult,’” says Gail Forbes-Harrison, the center’s director. Ingram agrees. She made up 16 credits via the center’s online curriculum this year, working at home and in the center—and she’s scheduled to graduate this summer. Who’s Accountable? The increased attention to and innovation around dropout recovery also shines a harsh light on the paucity of research on how to re-engage these students, and intensifies the debate around quality standards and accountability for educators who work with them, says Patte Barth, the director of the Center for Public Education, at the National School Boards Association, in Alexandria, Va. Fewer than half the states credit districts in either federal or state accountability systems for graduating students on a five- or six-year time frame rather than the traditional four years, as allowed under 2008 federal graduation rate regulations. But it can make a big difference: The Washington-based nonprofit American Youth Policy Forum, which studies and advocates for fixes to the dropout problem, found that when Michigan included a six-year rate for incoming 9th graders in 2007, the graduation rate increased by 9 percentage points for students in poverty and more than 6 percentage points for black students. And while state longitudinal-data systems have made tracking dropouts easier, states mostly haven’t changed the high-stakes, test-based accountability systems in which the school where a student last enrolled has responsibility for him or her. This sometimes leads to a game of hot potato with those who are perceived as unlikely to graduate on time. Even “successful” dropout-recovery programs typically have a graduation rate of 55 percent to 75 percent, which, in comparison with other public schools, makes “a pretty solid program look like a failing school that should be shut down,” says Lili Allen, the director of Jobs For the Future, a Boston nonprofit that works to develop educational pathways for college and career readiness. “We have this alternative system where we can push out these difficult students,” says uc-Santa Barbara’s Rumberger. “Theoretically, it’s supposed to be a better environment for them, but we don’t know if it is, and either way, the original school is off the hook. I think that’s a bad system.” Rumberger argues for creating a value-added measure for graduation, in which “every school that touches that kid ... should be held accountable for the success or failure of that kid.” Policymakers are starting to see some movement there, as well. Texas recently completed a pilot grant program that gave districts and community groups base funding to run interventions to bring back dropouts up to age 26, but then tied any additional funding to the number of students who eventually earned a diploma or ged, regardless of what models were used or how long it took. (See chart, right.) Ultimately, Jobs For the Future’s Allen believes dropout recovery will be judged not on whether students get a high school diploma, but on whether they are really prepared for life after graduation: college, careers, family, and a productive civic life. “There’s a growing recognition,” she says, “that this population needs to not just make it over that first finish line but really needs to make it through postsecondary if they are going to sustain family-supporting careers.” n “It’s real easy to not think about these kids, because they’re not the easiest population to work with, but there are so many of them, … and, man, there are some really bright kids who have dropped out of school.” MAPPING POPULATION PATTERNS FOR RECOVERABLE YOUTHS An original analysis conducted by the EPE Research Center reveals state-to-state and regional differences in the percentage of youths who do not have a diploma (or an alternative credential) and are no longer in school. Nationally, according to the analysis of data from the 2011 American Community Survey, 6.5 percent of young people between the ages of 16 and 21 lack a diploma and are not enrolled in school. Higher concentrations of such “recoverable” youths are found in the South, Southwest, and West. Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, Montana, and Nevada have the highest percentages, at roughly 9 percent each. LARRY M. PERONDI Oceanside Unified School District, Calif. Texas’ Statewide Strategy By Jaclyn Zubrzycki Five years ago, concerns about Texas’ high dropout rate led to a statewide focus on recovering the students who had already left school. One program that emerged was an initiative to recover dropouts that was considered unique in the nation. While most work on dropout recovery takes place at the local level, the Texas legislature enacted a law that allows the state to provide funds to school districts preparing students as old as 26 to receive their high school diplomas. The Texas Education Agency also began a dropout-recovery grant program that ran from 2008 to 2012 and offered support to districts, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education interested in bringing students back to school. The agency partnered with the Bostonbased Jobs For the Future to train grantees and facilitate the sharing of best practices among them. Each grantee created its own program, which could offer students pathways to a high school diploma or to demonstrating college readiness. The structure and results of programs across the state varied. Some were mainly online, while others involved door-to-door recruitment and in-class programs. In 2011, six of the programs were responsible for most of the recovered students—but the successful programs included both school districts and nonprofit organizations. Most programs offered financial incentives for students who met specific benchmarks and earned diplomas or certificates of college readiness. Overall, the results were striking: By 2012, the program had served more than four times as many students as it had anticipated. But a tighter state education budget meant the program had no budget after 2012, and the last grant cycle ended in March. The tea created a website with resources on dropout recovery, which it hopes districts will continue to use despite the funding drop-off. 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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