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Education Series Pt 2.  How Do We Fix Dropout Rates
Education Series Pt 2. How Do We Fix Dropout Rates

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AIR DATE: August 8, 2011

The Clark County School District continues to linger at the bottom nationally when it comes to graduation and dropouts rates.  Why?  And how can we turn it around?  We'll look at a national effort to raise graduation rates.  We'll also look at schools that have turned around failing schools and drop-out factories into successful models.
 
GUESTS
Robert Balfanz, Research Scientist, Johns Hopkins University
Jeff Horn, Principal, Green Valley High School
Dr. Allen Bourff, Superintendent, Richmond Community Schools

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COMMENTS:
In addition to working for the CCSD, I also tutor (on the side)  Parents who pay for extra tutoring expect results and they get them. The kids I tutor quickly master their times tables, we use flash cards and other rote methods  the same methods that the CCSD refuse to consider. I've voiced my complaints -- no one is listening.
Robert BurkhartAug 5, 2011 09:49:20 AM
Most kids enter the school system with optimism. Sadly, the CCSD does little to keep those hopes alive. I've worked in the CCSD, as a guest (substitute) teacher, for over six years. When classroom sizes (3rd grade and below) were regulated it was not uncommon to find a 3rd grade class of 18 students, a few weeks from the end of term, with only one or two students having mastered their multiplication tables. If you fail the children at that level there is little hope of their recovery. If you don't master this skill set by the end of 3rd grade in a class of 18 students there is little hope that you will master this skill set by the end of 4th grade in a class of 38 students. These are the kids who, 7 years later, have insufficient credits to pass and drop out. Schools should encourage success  but many teachers strictly apply rules that dictate failure. Children should be encouraged to turn in all assignments  applying penalties for late work (lower the maximum grade a late assignment can receive) makes sense  but deciding that all late work can only receive 50% credit means that all work turned in late will receive an F (continued)
Robert BurkhartrlAug 5, 2011 09:47:00 AM
No one really talks about the real reason our schools are failing...life outside the classroom
bladeAug 4, 2011 19:23:30 PM
Our kids could benefit from logistical changes. Many counties have home room k-12. Students have their OWN desk, locker etc in the room. They only change class rooms for labs, PE etc. The HR teacher does a lot of the classes but the rest of the day the teachers which specialize in a particual subjects push a cart with their lesson plans and personal items on it. End of having to worry about kids ditching, being late or sneaking off to smoke or get high. One student told me in his HS you could only walk in one direction. He was confounded by the stupidity of it because one of his classes was one door number behind the class he was in and was required to walk around the entire school instead of going back a few steps. Think of the extra achedemic time the kids would have if they didn't have to travel. I can give you dozens of ideas like this but I'll not waste my time on ego's. I wrote a politician and lined out in detail some good things other countries did. I didn't waste time on the negitives which was a big mistake. Even Pres. Obama was not provided with accurate info when he made a statement re a country I referenced. They legally beat and torture the kids for any reason. Korea
Karen KingAug 4, 2011 10:28:25 AM
I am a teacher at an at-risk middle school here in the valley. I think that one of the primary problems with drop-outs in high school is that some kids leave middle school without the skills they need to succeed in high school. As I see it, the primary reason for that is that the kids in this district need only one passing grade (a D) for only one semester of English OR Reading and one semester with a passing grade in Math to go on to the next grade. In other words, a child in this district could pass one semester of Reading with a D, have F's in both semesters of English, have a D in math one semester, have failed the other semester and failed all his other subjects and still move on. Is it any wonder that they don't have the skills to go on in high school? It drives the teachers crazy.
Maggie MoohaAug 4, 2011 09:47:11 AM
Couldn't agree more! Some students hit the wall in high school after failing the proficiency exams because they were socially promoted their entire academic career.
MichelleAug 4, 2011 09:54:48 AM
Thank you for being honest. Teachers have more influence than most people know. From the time I was in Elementary school I used to draw a lot and did embroidery by hand. By HS I could finish an entire pair of jeans in one day. My drawings were always of characters I knew. In 1971 I was in the 9th grade at Valley HS. During a conversation I told my Art teacher I was going to be a commercial artist. He said no you won't, you are not an artist and you don't have any talent. It was 20 years before I picked up a pencil or brush again and now at 53 I'm applying to several universities to major in Art Studio/Art Education. Maggie is right. Even if the teachers have to read books aloud at any grade or work 50 problems on the board we have to do something. Some kids are too ashamed to ask for help and the parents need to turn off the TV and get off the phone and do their children's homework and reading WITH them. If they can't then THEY should ask for help. The school dist. could begin by offering Home Work help classes to the families. We also need to get our kids CHEAP books so they can write in them and keep them. They do that in Asia. Every ESL student of mine referred to older books.
Karen KingAug 4, 2011 10:48:33 AM
I think a big part of CCSD's problem is a lack of leadership fron principals and not enough shared-decision making that involves all staff, families, and students. I think principals at at-risk schools need to be watched more closely to ensure that they are really following the action steps on their school improvement plans. This means academic managers need to be in schools observing principals. Good leadership makes all the difference in turning a school around.
anonymous Aug 4, 2011 09:44:01 AM
I am a product of the Clark County School District and I am a teacher at the High School that I graduated from. The first things to realize about our failing numbers is how they are calculated; we are trying to track students from 9th grade through graduation. I have an average of at least 3 students a month enter or exit my classes from other schools. There are a number of students that leave our schools without formally withdrawing, they are added to our dropout rate whether or not they continue their education elsewhere because schools may not have the manpower to track them down, especially if they have left the country. The rate at which students move from school to school, even within the valley, makes it difficult to connect with the students and ensure the continuity of their education. As a teacher I have received numerous hours of training to help me try to reach and engage students, however when they move every few months and know that little if anything they do in one school will follow them to the next it makes it difficult.
Janelle KleinAug 4, 2011 09:42:22 AM
The drop out rate is really an easy fix that no one wants to try. We have an exit exam that is essentially a college entrance exam and offer no real vocational training for students who don't have a good GPA. Most of the programs at our Career and Technical Academies are for college bound students, so there is little incentive for struggling students to stay in school.
Karl GustafsonAug 4, 2011 09:23:03 AM
You are correct. I don't know how it is now but in England you had 2 choices at the end of the 10th grade. If you wanted to go to college you stayed in. If you wanted to go into a vocation like auto mechanics, hospitality service or what ever then you took the HS exam. There is no shame in doing what you want to do. If your 11-12th graders are there because they want to be there you omit a lot of problems.
Karen KingAug 4, 2011 10:33:47 AM
- I teach high school - I am taking a course this summer on effective classrooms - 2 of the 6 classes were created by Clifton Taulbert (million man march) - Overall message is that student and school success relies on parent and community involvement - Yet when I attempt to call home many times I cannot reach a parent or get a disconnected phone number
MichelleAug 4, 2011 09:20:47 AM
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