Tag Archives: dropout

I heard Diane Ravitch today . . .

I heard Diane Ravitch today.  She clearly is a voice we should all listen to.  In her comment she made is clear that poverty, segregation and the absence of resources are the real problems in American public schools. She also debunked the concept that America’s test scores are terrible.  Below are her words from a seven minute NPR interview from a week ago.

The cause of the achievement gap is poverty and segregation, and an absence of resources. Wherever you find that toxic combination of high poverty and racial segregation, you will find low test scores. And so what’s happening today is that we – first, we have No Child Left Behind, which I believe is a failed policy. I mean, Secretary Duncan said it’s broken. It’s broken and it’s failed. We have many, many children left behind. They’re the same children who were left behind when the law was passed over 10 years ago.

But No Child Left Behind set an unreasonable goal. It said 100 percent of the children would be proficient, and then, when the 100 percent are not proficient, it’s unreasonable because no nation in the world has 100 percent of the children proficient.

We label those schools failing schools. We fire the teachers. We close the schools and then they’re set up for privatization. So I think this is a terrible process that has been set into motion that is doing tremendous damage to public education.

Millions of teachers understand it. Many superintendents and principals understand it. They know that testing is not going to close gaps, it’s simply going to reflect gaps.

The other thing you should know – and I think it’s really important in this conversation to say this. The NAEP scores – that is, the federal testing scores today – are the highest they’ve ever been in history.

The scores for white students, black students, Hispanic students and Asian students are the highest they’ve ever been since federal testing began 40 years ago. We also have the highest high school graduation rate in history for the people in the age group 18 to 24. We also have the lowest dropout rate in history for that age group, 18 to 24. Only eight percent of them don’t have a high school diploma.

She gets me thinking.


EACH Student a Learner!

When I see young people – I see potential!

Currently there are too many students that are left behind.  Dropouts, underachievers, and minimal learners are all too common. The current system for educating society’s youth is broken: Broken if we agree that there is student potential that is not being tapped.  Yet, there are those that might cling to that status quo in our schools because it is familiar and in some ways comfortably predictable.

Chris Dede and John Richards have published: Digital Teaching Platforms: Customizing Classroom Learning for Each Student, 2012.  They are providing a ‘bright light’ on what is currently possible for, as the subtitle says “customizing learning for each student”.  The powerful presence and potential of interactive technology and learning is presented and explored in their book.

To move forward into the possibility of customization, highly interactive, and evolving learning environments for each and every student means ‘letting go’ of the status quo.  It does not mean teachers are not and will not be important.  I absolutely know that teachers are and will continue to be essential for their ability to know their student, planning, evaluating, orchestration, implementation, supportive relationships, direct teaching and so much, much more to insure that high quality learning deeply touches each and every child.

To go back to the fact that currently, many students are not benefiting from school leads me to believe that learning opportunities need to continue grs45to evolve.  Learning has to and needs to continue to benefit from technology.  All learners deserve to have access to precise, in-depth learning opportunities at a pace that fits them.  Digital Teaching Platforms, as explain by Dede and Richards in the book their book mentioned above (p 1), are designed to bring interactive technology to teaching and learning in classrooms where each student and teacher have laptops, or some equivalent computational device, connected to the network designed to operate in a teacher-led classroom as a major carrier of the curriculum content and function as the primary instructional environment for students.

Learning through effective and vibrant technology platforms means that a student is afforded the opportunity to adjust the learning pace to match his or her own pace.  Students who find the depth of learning in traditional situations to be either too sallow or too deep can work from the precise place they are in the continuum of learning and move forward. For learners who find that the content presented in traditional learning settings to be something they have already mastered or is dramatically beyond their prior knowledge are able to make sense of the potential ‘learning puzzle’ and begin to move forward with their learning from where they are.

If society is going to work toward tapping the potential of each student we are going to have to be willing to be resourceful and let go of the past as our ‘lens’ for the future.  We are going to want to find and use platforms of possibility.  Digital Teaching Platforms are worth investigating if we want to customize classroom learning for each student.


They looked at their students and saw possibility and potential!

The Goal of 100% of Students Graduating Is A Goal All Districts Should Strive To Accomplish.  

Brandywine Community Schools did it!  This Michigan district didn’t accept that “some kids” (that may be 1%, 6% or 15%) are just not going to graduate because of their lack of motivation or ability.  100% of the class of 2011 graduated on June 5th!

Superintendent John Jarpe, Principal Pat Weckel, Counselor Angie Roeder and the staff of Brandywine High School truly were committed to meeting this goal.  They found ways to help students recover lost credits.  They found ways to encourage students to put forth the effort necessary to earn the credits.  They helped young people to see their potential and then to work to fulfill it.  They looked at their students and saw possibility!  Educators across the state need to commit to connecting and supporting all students through graduation!  

In a challenge issued on June 30, 2009, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan announced a statewide Superintendent’s Dropout Challenge to Michigan’s 4,000 public schools that could impact nearly 60,000 students at-risk of dropping out of school.  “Today, one out of every four Michigan children fails to graduate with their class,” said Flanagan. “This challenge is the first step in helping thousands of Michigan students stay in school.”   Read more by downloading the pdf at: www.michigan.gov/documents/…/Dropout_Challenge_284523_7.pdf 


The challenge to graduate all students is not new, yet schools are not meeting the challenge.  That is why Brandywine is in the news.  Each of us, in our own towns, might want to bring up the topic and raise the awareness around this issue.  In America, we pride ourselves on providing a free education to all. 


Without a diploma, the the picture is bleak!

Fact: High school dropouts are three times more likely to be jobless than college graduates.

 Fact: People with some college make 50% more than high school dropouts.

Fact: A college graduate earns almost twice as much as a high school graduate.


The three facts stated above and the graphic can be found at: http://bzintelguru.com/showroom/education-pays-get-the-facts-in-this-informative-graph/





Early Childhood Education is the Right Thing to Dramatically Ramp Up in Michigan!!!

On average, every $1 invested in high quality early childhood programs saves society $16, and it helps children come to the K-12 system ready to learn and far less likely to have to repeat grades or to drop out of school.  An economic study showed that in 2009, Michigan’s investment in early childhood programs saved $1.1 billion in spending on remedial schooling, special education and health care. It has also reduced dropout rates and criminal justice costs.

That’s why Voices for Michigan’s Children is asking Governor Snyder and the state Legislature to hold the line on funding for early childhood programs – as a key strategy in turning around our state’s economy. We’re happy to hear the Governor agrees with that, and his statements about developing a “P-20” mindset – which he describes as Prenatal to age 20 – in state government policy decision making.

This information and more can be found at michiganschildren.org and specifically from the article: Legislative Leaders Learn about Developing Young Brains by Jack Kresnek.



The Dropout Epidemic ~ Click to read more . . .

The overall national picture is still troubling, with more than one million public high school students still failing to graduate with their class every year

To study the challenges our country faces regarding the dropout rates, please download and read Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic. It is a very thorough report.  And the topic clearly is an important issue for our country as we move toward more positive outcomes for our students.

High School graduation rates over the last decade have shown significant improvements as state and local reforms begin to take hold, and the number of dropout factory high schools is declining.  Some states, school districts, and schools have made real progress, thus shattering the myth that only incremental gains are possible.  The overall national picture is still troubling, with more than one million public high school students still failing to graduate with their class every year.

The rate of progress – 3 percentage points – is too slow to reach the national goal of having 90 percent of students graduate from high school and obtain at least one year of post-secondary schooling or training by 2020.  Over the next 10 years, the nation will need to accelerate its progress in boosting high school graduations rates fivefold from the rates achieved through 2008. (page 7)

people who have college degrees are getting hired, but those who didn’t finish school are sitting on the sidelines

I envision an America where all young people learn to high levels.

That is a dream because today many of our young people drop out of high school or don’t continue to pursue further training or learning beyond high school when they do graduate.

Combine this with an economy that doesn’t have work for undereducated citizens and we end up with a situation that leaves many citizens behind.

As an educator, I write to encourage all parents, community members, and fellow educators to encourage and support each and every student to remain in school.

I also believe that schools need to change to be places of learning for ALL.  Most of those who drop outs have an average to above average intelligence.  So, the challenge schools face is to meet these learners where they are and engage them with learning that allows them to stay connected to school and the wonder of learning.  As educators, our goal has to be to help all learners develop a “want to” approach to learning rather than a “have to” approach.  When we help to excite a learner – their motivation can propel them to get heights.

For my dream of an America where all young people learn at high levels to be a reality it will require dramatic changes – but our young people and the future of our country are worth it.



Do educators have trouble seeing that every dropout (or at least the vast majority of them) is a failure of the school system?

Richard DuFour makes a case that has value either as a reminder to school leaders or as a prod for school leaders to move forward.

“A learning community is a place where the faculty has come together, they have a sense of shared purpose, they have a sense of the school they are trying to create, and they’ve made collective commitments to creating that school. When you walked into a learning community you’d see a place where teachers were working together in collaborative teams that were engaged in collective inquiry. There would be a focus on data, there’d be a commitment to continuous improvement. There would be a constant sharing of information and you would see a process in place that would keep people continually asking the questions, ‘what are we trying to accomplish?’ ‘What evidence do we have that we are in fact accomplishing it?’ And, ‘what are our strategies for getting better?’  So, the structure of the school, the appearance of the school, might not be significantly different than a traditional school, but the way the people operate within the school would be significantly different.”


“If we believe all kids can learn, what is it that we want them to learn, and how will we respond when they don’t?”

Learning Communities “are ruthlessly honest in assessing where they are. In order to do that, there are several things that schools can do. One is that they need to pay very close attention to the criticisms of their critics. They need to look at those who have looked at the traditional structure of schools and found it to be lacking and to ask the question, ‘Is this true of us?’ ‘Is it true that our teachers work in isolation?’ ‘Is it true that we can’t clarify our goals?’ ‘Is it true that we are a top-down bureaucracy?’, and all the other criticisms of the traditional structure and culture of school.”

DuFour believes people in an effective school make commitments that focus on ends rather then means.   How have you as a parent, citizen or educator helped people focus on the ends (outcomes) rather then just the means (inputs)?

Do we in education have problems with asking honest questions and accepting the honest answers?  Another way of asking this might be: Do educators have trouble seeing that every dropout (or at least the vast majority of them) is a failure of the school system?

How does leadership build “community” around the concept of doing things better to vastly improving student outcomes?

Note: DeFour made these comments in an October 2010 interview with the Audio Education Online service.