The economic prospects of the District could be greatly increased if more of its students graduated from high school, studies show. To help address the dropout problem, several schools in the city are working to give dropouts a second – and maybe their last – chance at graduation.
We look to schools to ensure that students graduate high school, even though kids spend about three-quarters of their time outside of school. For many at-risk students, the extra attention paid to what's going on at home may be what gets them over the hump to graduation.
Many programs to help lower dropout rates have proven effective on their first go-around; the problem, according researchers, is expanding those programs to a multitude of schools. With Diplomas Now, a team of educators, volunteers, and social workers are hoping to scale up one of these concepts, and three D.C. public schools are some of the test cases.
High school graduation rates are notoriously poor in urban areas of high poverty. But the Baltimore Talent Development High School in Baltimore City has had remarkable results shepherding students to graduation thanks to principles that value individual attention, specialized curricula, and providing each student with at least one adult who truly cares about their success.
The risk factors for dropping out -- poverty, homelessness, juvenile offenses -- run rampant in the District of Columbia. Yet there are students every year who rise above these challenging circumstances to succeed. Christopher Feaster and Travaris Chambers are two of those on track to graduate this May despite having traveled rough roads.
The United States used to top the list of countries' high school graduation rates, but that ranking has shifted significantly in recent years. More than 20 countries are now beating the U.S. on graduations, as developed and developing countries alike bolster their graduation rates. But what does that mean for American competitiveness and the U.S. education system going forward?
Students drop out of school for a complex combination of reasons, making it difficult for teachers to identify any one cause. What educators have been able to narrow down are the most frequent early indicators that a student might someday drop out of school, and they apply these daily to try to combat the dropout crisis.
Calculating graduation and dropout rates for high schools is complicated, and until now there has been no consensus on how to do so. Under new federal guidelines, schools in all states must use the same method – and the shift is bringing out statistics that, in some cases, present the first real comparison of the dropout crisis nationwide.
Grace McMillan, left, and her mother, Saundra Walker, both struggled in school, and then dropped out when they became pregnant. Now, decades later, they're attending classes together to try to get their GED diplomas.