Listening to Our Students to Prevent Drop Outs

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Tufts University’s America’s Promise Alliance and its Center for Promise released a new report on the circumstances surrounding students’ choices to drop out of school.  This is a particular issue of concern for communities of color where school graduation rates are significantly lower than white students.  According to the Center for American Progress, high school graduation rates in 2009-2010 were as follows: 

  • 83% for whites
  • 66% for blacks
  • 71% for Hispanics
  • 69% for Native Americans 

For the Tufts University report, researchers interviewed students who dropped out of school and found that their decisions were influenced by 25 different factors or events. Some of these factors include family health challenges, peer influences, school safety, incarceration, becoming parents, and school policies. All of the interviewed students had to deal with a combination of toxic home, school, and neighborhood environmental issues, which weighed heavily on their decisions to leave school.  Also, all of the dropouts indicated needs for connectedness that were not met in school.  The report also shows that student who stayed out of school did so because even after having bounced back from difficult situations, the support they needed to reengage was not there.

 The report shows that there are risk factors that lead to interrupted enrollment to which school professionals should pay close attention so that students can be encouraged to stay in school or return to school if they have left. These factors are: homelessness, incarcerated parents, moving homes, changing schools, and foster care.

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