In yesterday’s blog, we talked about 21 factors that might predict which students are most at-risk of dropping out. Today, the antidote: fifteen effective strategies for dropout prevention, based on the research of the National Dropout Prevention Center (NDPC).
Just as any of our students can be at-risk of not graduating, anyone in our school and community can be a part of providing the needed support to help a student or students overcome the risk and earn their diploma.
Here’s the catch: unless we are intentional in organizing the efforts to reduce dropping out, we are very likely to have gaps in our service. Good intentions alone don’t provide the support needed to prevent dropouts, but a well-organized effort using strategies aligned with research? That’s a winning combination.
The NDPC offers a Diploma Planning Institute to support the work of teams to design plans that address the risk factors of their students with the fifteen effective strategies. Effective planning helps us move from random acts of dropout prevention to a strategic effort aligning resources to help students stay on track towards graduation.
To do so, we should use what we’ve learned from research. A quick warning about the fifteen strategies; they aren’t to be used like the dollar menu at McDonald’s. They are most effectively used when done so with fidelity to the research. That research tells us that the foundational strategies— systemic approach, school-community collaboration, and safe learning environment— are the basis for all the other strategies.
What does that mean? In short, it doesn’t do you much good to have an awesome mentoring program in a school with a less-than-safe learning environment. If you have an incredible after-school program but the other pieces of your school (systemic approach) don’t work to help students successful, you aren’t really getting anywhere. And a service-learning program in a place where school and community don’t work together? The doesn’t work either.
What does work is a strategic use of the fifteen strategies to meet the risk factors of your students. You can learn more about both at dropoutprevention.org . Also, you can see descriptions of each of the strategies below.
We can reduce dropout and increase the number of students graduating, but it will take time to talk together about our students, determine their needs, and design our school in a way that will meet their needs.