What if we reorganized entire schools with teams of teachers who shared a common group of students? What if we added more time for English and math and offered coaching for teachers and principals? What if we welcomed students to school, called them if they didn’t show up and helped with homework? What if we used an early warning system that identified struggling students based on their poor attendance, behavior and course performance and then worked to get each student back on track?
No need for a new school; just a change of focus!
Robert Balfanz of Johns Hopkins University, in an article in the New York Times, offers some sensible and proven ideas about how to cut dropouts among the most vulnerable students.
The likely dropouts can be identified as early as sixth grade, he writes, by attendance, behavior, and course performance.
Half of all African-American male dropouts are concentrated in 660 high schools. “These 660 schools are typically big high schools that teach only poor kids of color. They are concentrated in 15 states. Many are in major cities, but others are in smaller, decaying industrial cities or in the South, especially in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina.”
Once identified, they should get the extra attention, support, and help they need so that they will stay in school and keep up with their peers and eventually graduate.
“In 2008, my colleagues and I decided to focus on those struggling sixth and…
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