Who are the difference-makers?
Someone has made a difference. There’s a lot to celebrate in the realm of dropout prevention. The graduating class of students in the US in 2016 reached a new record, with a graduation rate of 83.2%, continuing an upward trend of over four percentage points since 2010.
While there will be no shortage of explanations as to why the graduation rate increased, one thing will be certain: it could eventually be traced back to people who did the right things to help students believe and achieve.
What is the difference between a student who drops out and one who graduates on-time with her class? Typically, it’s a set of identifiers that are either advantages or risk factors. But what turns risk factors around, neutralizing their impact and stopping dropout?
We know that there are fifteen effective strategies to reduce dropouts (National Dropout Prevention Center, NDPC); at the heart of each of those strategies is a person who is there when needed, says the right things, does the right things, and doesn’t give up.
If we are graduating more students and reducing dropouts, it’s because:
- a fourth-grade teacher has kept working with a struggling reader;
- a single-mom has come home and checked her son’s homework after finishing her work day;
- the positive influence of other families in the community have made it the norm that everyone graduates, so dropping out isn’t the option it once was;
- a coach has taught the values of hard-work, perseverance, and respect;
- a same-age peer has bravely come by and woken a friend up, talked them into coming to school, given them a ride;
- an assistant principal has worked with a student who has always struggled to make the right choices;
- the principal has made building relationships a priority and created time in the schedule for positive relationships to develop;
- fewer students gave up; fewer people gave up on students;
- someone gave just a little bit more time, a little bit more help, a little bit more encouragement.
Who are the difference-makers? While they may go nameless, it’s their actions that have led to fewer dropouts, more graduates, and more opportunities for more people.
Who are the difference-makers? Most likely, you, and others like you who were willing to give just a little bit more.
Who are the difference-makers? To help every child be a graduate, every one of us need to be a difference-maker. All it takes is a little bit more.