Dr. Sam Drew, Interim Executive Director of the National Dropout Prevention Center (NDPC) and Network (NDPN) announced today the inauguration of the NDPC Fellows Program. The goal of the NDPC Fellows is to contribute to the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University and the National Dropout Prevention Network in achieving their mission to increase the high school graduation rates through research and evidence-based solutions.
“These Fellows will broaden the impact of the Center and Network through efforts such as collaborative research projects, public speaking including keynotes and serving on panels, and the development of practical resources for the field,” stated Drew. “Indeed, their initial plans include providing a regular meta-analysis of the latest research on dropout risk factors and effective programs, building on the NDPC’s 2007 report, Dropout Risk Factors and Exemplary Programs, and an Annual Report that will highlight the latest in effective strategies.”
The Fellows program will expand in the next 12 months to include a NDPN Practitioner Fellows program. Those individuals selected for NDPN Practitioner Fellows will provide the practical outreach through the Network, based on the NDPC Fellow’s research findings and their own work in dropout prevention efforts at the local level.
Stuart Udell, CEO of Catapult Learning, Inc., and Chairman of the NDPN Board, added this endorsement. “Speaking for the Network Board, we are enthusiastic about this new direction for both the Center and the Network. We believe that the strength of these concerted efforts in dropout prevention will provide greater use of the Center’s outstanding resources and a more widespread dissemination through this growing Network.”
Audio Excerpt from our Solutions Broadcast
I hope I can serve as a liaison between NDPC/N and the research community in public health and in medical settings that looks at issues like teen pregnancy, substance abuse, bullying, and even childhood obesity. These issues may be seen by those researchers as their dependent variable of interest, but nevertheless may shape the school experience in ways that increase risk of school dropout. Similarly, school failure may be seen by these researchers as an “independent variable” that predicts risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy or eating disorders. I hope that we can move more toward recognizing that this is an interactive system of ”linked epidemics” and that we can help to develop more holistic approaches that improve the lives of individuals from adolescence into adulthood.
I am pleased to be a Research Fellow for NDPC/N. I hope to continue the quality research of the Center and expand it by conducting intervention research related to preventing school dropout. I am interested in interventions that attend to students’ academic and social-emotional needs within school settings and through the transition from K-12 to postsecondary settings. I believe we must focus on educating the whole person in order to make substantial and lasting changes in the educational system and with student outcomes. I hope to be a part of this change for all students and particularly for those with high incidence disabilities and who are twice exceptional.
The formation of the NDPC Fellows Program is an educational dream that has come to fruition. Having the Fellows work both directly on specific projects with and indirectly as liaisons for the NDPC will create dynamic relationships that will branch into multiple directions. As associate dean for research in HEHD, my goal is to facilitate those collaborative relationships and outreach endeavors. As Fellows, we will work diligently to support teachers and learners who are key to addressing the mission of the NDPC in our state and nation.
The formation of the NDPC Fellows opens an opportunity for ensuring that research on school engagement reaches practices and vice versa. Meta-analyses on dropout prevention and reviews of research on the various effective initiatives expand on the contribution that NDPC’s new online journal, Engage: An international journal on research and practices in school engagement promises. As the Editor for Engage, I’m particularly interested in seeing a more dynamic flow between research and practice.
I am the chair of the faculty of teacher education and I see my greatest strength as one where I build direct connections between the research, teaching, and service activities of my faculty with the research and outreach activities of the NDPC. The Network can provide overwhelming and powerful evidence to the American people that there is a dropout/pushout crisis and at the same time provide evidence of ways to address this crisis.
The formation of the NDPC Fellows creates an opportunity for ensuring that research on the need for quality preschool education for all children will be expanded. Students who are more likely to drop out of school are typically in greater need of early intervention or early childhood education in the preschool years. An important role of the NDPC Fellows is to make visible the research outcomes that document the impact of early childhood education on student academic achievement, indicators of social success, and increased capacity for wage earning and making long-term contributions to society in general. I look forward to utilizing my expertise and interest in early childhood education in the research efforts of the NDPC Fellows.
I’m honored and humbled to be part of the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network’s new Fellows program. Our first efforts are already underway and hopefully will allow us to provide empirical evidence to identify those program components that are most effective at preventing dropouts and improving graduation rates for all students, particularly those most at risk of not graduating from high school.
Conducting a meta-analysis of programs will provide further insight into what we already know. Previous studies conducted by the NDPC/N and others tell us that the dropout risk factors are many and are multifaceted. The literature also helps identify methods that may help alleviate or eliminate these risk factors. But no synthesis of the literature has been conducted to establish which program components or characteristics are most successful in reducing dropout rates and improving graduation rates. I believe that such a study will allow us to strengthen existing programs by impacting policy at the local, state, and perhaps even national level to help all students graduate on time with clear pathways to a meaningful postsecondary life.
As a strategic partner of the NDPC/N since 2009, the UMass Dartmouth Urban Initiative has gained tremendously from the opportunity to integrate our comprehensive approach to urban policy analysis with the vast knowledge and skills of the NDPC/N for the benefit of schools, districts, and cities across our region. Across the diverse communities in which we've worked together to serve, one thing holds constant: context matters. The decision to drop out doesn't happen in isolation; instead, it can be affected by factors as wide-ranging as housing access and affordability, transportation, economic opportunity, and public safety. This holistic perspective, along with my experience working with the NDPC/N to evaluate dropout prevention programs and disseminate best practices, will be among my contributions as a NDPC Fellow. I look forward to working with the team of NDPC Fellows to broaden the reach of the NDPC/N in its efforts to increase high school graduation rates nationwide.
I see the Fellows program as providing opportunities for people from many perspectives to study problems and explore solutions. I view the dropout problem as being multi-facetted and thus requiring multi-facetted solutions. I believe the Fellows program is an excellent example of a multi-facetted solution.
I am particularly interested in developing and disseminating quality policy options federal, state and local policymakers and education leaders can adopt/adapt to create and sustain the conditions for student development and graduation from high school. Such policy options will be based on evidence and research to support quality practices, identify components of a safe and engaging school climate.
My interest as a Fellow is to develop programs and national initiatives that connect all of my areas of interest: service-learning, career and technical education, and civic engagement. I hope to develop funding and relationships for the NDPC so that all the groups that need to be connected for student engagement and retention can combine to develop effective models of K-12/college/community collaborations that make education work for everyone.