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Dropout Prevention: Recent Research and State Policy Responses Jennifer Dounay Education Commission of the States Presentation to Ready for Life Nevada Dropout Prevention Summit Las Vegas, Nevada November 12, 2008 About ECS 50-state education compact est’d 1965 Nonpartisan, nonprofit

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Dropout Prevention: Recent Research and State Policy ResponsesJennifer DounayEducation Commission of the StatesPresentation to Ready for Life Nevada Dropout Prevention SummitLas Vegas, NevadaNovember 12, 2008


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About ECS

  • 50-state education compact est’d 1965

  • Nonpartisan, nonprofit

  • Serves all state-level education policymakers and their staffs:

    • Governors

    • Legislators

    • State board members

    • State superintendents

    • SHEEOS and higher education boards

Education Commission of the States


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Research (and common sense) – and state policy responses

  • Middle grades

  • HS curriculum: Rigor and relevance

  • Curricular supports: Remediation and adolescent literacy

  • Structure of day/week/year

  • Push/pull: Parental involvement

  • Adult advocates for at-risk students

  • Early warning systems and use of data

Education Commission of the States


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Middle grades

  • Balfanz, Herzog, MacIver 2007 study

  • Four grade 6 indicators:

    • Failing English

    • Failing math

    • Attendance 80% or below

    • One or more out-of-school suspension (= failing “behavior” grade)

Education Commission of the States


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State policy responses

  • RI, LA: Supp. ed. programs/coaching for students below grade level in reading, math

  • GA: Graduation coaches in middle schools

Education Commission of the States


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Rigor and relevance

  • Numerous studies (and common sense)

  • Rigor: higher expectations (+ supports)

  • Rigor + relevance

    • Dual enrollment

    • Early/middle college high school

    • Academics integrated in career/tech. courses

    • Proficiency-based credit

  • Relevance: Individual grad. plans

Education Commission of the States


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Rigor: Higher expectations (and supports)

  • “College/work ready” core = Min.

    • 4 English

    • Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II

    • 3 lab sciences

    • 3 social studies

  • At least 8 states to require

  • Alignment with college admissions reqts (some states)

Education Commission of the States


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College/work-ready core

  • Key to consider:

    • End-of-course or other means to demonstrate attainment of standards

    • High quality, targeted remediation

    • Opportunity for integrated academic/CTE

    • Teacher preparation, professional devt.

    • Public awareness of, support for need

    • Backmapping from HS to earlier grades!

Education Commission of the States


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Dual enrollment

  • RI: Poss. intervention for dist. w/ dropout rate > 15%

    • Course fee waivers for free/reduced lunch

  • OR: “Priority” for districts to inform dropouts of Expanded Options

  • LA: Articulated credit pilot

  • IN: Fast Track to College

Education Commission of the States


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Early/middle college HS

  • Early college HS: diploma + AA in 5 yrs.

  • Middle college: Some PS credits on PS campus

  • ECHS: State-level policies in 6 states (CO, MI, NC, PA, TN, TX)

  • No ECHS in Nevada?

  • Model ECHS policy components:

    • ECS October 2008 report: “Improving Outcomes for Traditionally Underserved Students Through Early College High Schools”

    • search doc 7863 on www.ecs.org

Education Commission of the States


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Academics in CTE

  • “Math in CTE” program

    • CTE students better than controls

    • Perf. same on CTE skills

  • 2001 study of NELS data:

    • Dropout lowest: 3 CTE units: 4 academic units

    • Esp. for at-risk students

    • Dropout increased when CTE ratio rose above this ratio

Education Commission of the States


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Academics in CTE (cont’d)

  • Key state policy components:

    • Include CTE courses as option in fulfilling grad. reqts.

    • Content stds. (reading/writing/math) that can be integrated into CTE courses

    • Allow demonstration of mastery of stds. via CTE in lieu of academic courses

    • PD for CTE and academic teachers to team teach

Education Commission of the States


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Curricular supports: Remediation

  • Key state policy components:

    • Students ID’d early in school year, HS career

    • Schools/dist. required to provide

    • Students required to attend

    • Individual learning plan for every ID’d student

    • Program must be evaluated regularly, improved based on evaluation

  • October 2008 ECS report: “HS Remediation”

  • ECS database

Education Commission of the States


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Curricular supports: Adolescent literacy

  • Little focus on literacy after grade 3

  • Obvious: Literacy is key to success in core academics

Education Commission of the States


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Adolescent literacy (cont’d)

  • Some key policy components:

    • Students grades 4-12 ID’d for diagnostic reading assts.

    • Literacy stds. aligned with curricula and assts.

    • State supports for local literacy plans

    • Teacher cert. includes adolescent literacy

    • Teacher mentoring/induction in adolescent literacy

    • Teacher PD in meeting adolescent literacy needs

    • Principal incentives to build leadership in adolescent literacy

  • ECS 50-state policy database: www.ecs.org/hsdb-al

Education Commission of the States


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Alternative pathways to standard diploma

  • August 2008 ECS report: “Beyond the GED”

  • Key state policy components:

    • Increasing upper statutory age

    • Alternative means to demonstrate competency

    • Flexible (but equally rigorous) credit recovery

      • Online or computer-based

      • Targeted to student need

    • Flexible scheduling and courseloads

      • Indiana School Flex program

    • Funding systems to accommodate flexibility

Education Commission of the States


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Push/pull: Parental involvement

  • HS parents don’t always know what involvement matters

  • Areas of policy

    • Developing formal policy

    • Reaching out on academic expectations

    • Accommodating parents’ needs

    • Building staff capacity

    • Building parent capacity

    • Developing benchmarks, evaluating impact, revising policies as needed

  • August 2008 ECS report (search doc 7848 on www.ecs.org)

Education Commission of the States


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Adult advocates for students

  • Georgia: Graduation coaches

    • ID at-risk students, keep on track academically

    • AL now piloting program

  • Colorado: School Counselors Corps Grant Program

    • Priority to schools w/above avg. dropout rates

Education Commission of the States


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Early warning systems/use of data

  • RI: State uses data for program improvement:

    • HS suspensions related to truancy

    • # students re-enrolled in flexible schedule/CC prog.

    • # freshmen with personal literacy plans

    • # students repeating Algebra I or 9th grade math

    • # students repeating 9th grade

    • # students receiving remediation in 9th grade

  • RI SEA annual report:

    • Outcomes of district strategies to date

    • How strategies will be modified, based on data

Education Commission of the States



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