Whether we're talking ability, engagement, or a lack of relevance, our nation's schools have a drop-out 'problem' according to many, including the National Education Association. To help alter the course of events, they're recommending a 12-step program (of sorts) to inspire more students to graduate from high school by changing our national commitment at all levels.
Here's what they offer:
- Mandate high school graduation (or equivalent) for everyone by the age of 21.
- Establish high school graduation centers for students 19-21 to provide unique instruction away from younger students.
- Ensure students receive instruction in safe schools, in smaller learning communities within larger buildings, via smaller classes, during the summer and on weekends and after-school programs.
- Expand students' graduation options by creating partnerships with community colleges in career and technical fields with alternative schools. For students who are incarcerated, tie their release to high school graduation.
- Increase career education and workforce readiness programs so students can see connections between school and careers.
- Act early so students do not drop out, using high-quality, universal preschool and full-day kindergarten and programs that ensure students are doing grade-level work throughout their school careers.
- Involve families in students' learning at school and home in new and creative ways so they can help their children engage in healthy behaviors and stay involved in their education.
- Monitor, accurately report and push for reduced dropout rates by gathering accurate data for key student groups like ethnic and racial groups, establishing benchmarks in each state and adopting standardized reporting developed by the National Governors Association.
- Involve the entire community through family-friendly policies that provide release time for employees to attend parent-teacher conferences; work schedules that allow high school students to attend classes on time and be ready to learn, and adopt-a-school programs to encourage volunteerism.
- Ensure educators have the necessary training and resources, including professional development focused on needs of diverse and at-risk students; the latest textbooks and computers; and safe, modern schools.
- Make high school a federal priority by calling on Congress to invest $10 billion over the next decade to support dropout prevention programs and support states that make high school graduation compulsory.