Can teachers prevent dropouts?
The high school drop out rate has been a topic of discussion in education reform for a long time. While the statistics are sobering, there has been significant progress made in decreasing the dropout rate. However, for the students who do drop out there are dire consequences ahead. PBS Newshour posed a question that is worth exploring: Can teachers prevent dropouts?
Andrew Sum, professor of Economics and director of Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University conducted a study on the societal costs of high school drop outs. Some of the findings included: more than double lifetime earnings for associate degree holders compared to high school drop outs, 1/3 of high school dropouts on food stamps compared to 8.6 percent of associate degree holders, and 14.7 percent of high school dropouts incarcerated compared to 3% of high school graduates. In other words, the situation is very urgent. Watch the following video below about one way a Chicago’s Southside school is dealing with the issue.
This story was very inspiring and I commend the dedication that this teacher has with her students. However, I was concerned about one statistic in the video. That they plan to scale OneGoal program throughout the district. I predict that scaling this program to other schools in CPS is not going to yield the same results that we see in this video. Rick Hess in his book, Cage-Busting Leadership put it best, ” [there is a] problem with focusing on instructional and improvement strategies without attending to the…organizational problems. The problem is that we fixate on the climb and turn a blind eye to the terrain. The result is a constant chase for new miracle solutions that never quite pan out.” I believe that important take away from this video is that teachers CAN impact high school dropout rates but it must have buy-in and support from the teacher and for the teacher.