Vol 16, no 11 Header image

Dropout Prevention Update

From the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network
December 2016—Vol. 16, No. 12

Please remember us this year with a tax-deductible gift that will support our offering resources, research, and networking opportunities to promote dropout prevention and high school graduation rate improvement. You may donate at any time through one of the methods outlined at http://dropoutprevention.org/donate/ Thank you in advance for your gift.

Registration Open!

2017 At-Risk Youth National FORUM

“Connections That Build Resilience and Success”

February 19–22, 2017

Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation

Myrtle Beach, SC

2017 At-Risk Youth Natinal FORUM CFP

Register today for the February 19–22, 2017, At-Risk Youth National FORUM, to be held in beautiful Myrtle Beach, SC. The theme is “Connections That Build Resilience and Success.” A major focus of this event will be extracurricular, outside-of-core-academic dropout prevention strategies. Keynote speakers include Clemson University head football coach, Dabo Swinney; Coastal Carolina head baseball coach, Gary Gilmore; the “Connection Coach,” Tara Brown; and inspirational speaker, Principal Baruti Kafele. To register and for more information, visit http://dropoutprevention.org/conferences/2017-at-risk-youth-national-forum/

2017 National Forum on Dropout Prevention for Native and Tribal Communities

April 9–12, 2017

We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center

Scottsdale, AZ

2017 Native and Tribal Communities Conference

Registration to attend and the Call for Proposals to present are now open for the 2017 National Forum on Dropout Prevention for Native and Tribal Communities. This year, we’re focusing on strategies to work with native students who are at risk of dropping out of school before high school graduation, including addressing the opportunity gap, instructional strategies, behavioral supports, community engagement, and more. The call for proposals to present will be open through January 27. For more information, link to http://dropoutprevention.org/conferences/2017-national-forum-dropout-prevention-native-tribal-communities/

Reaching the Wounded Student Conference

June 25–28, 2017

Rosen Centre Hotel

Orlando, FL

2017 RTWSC

Registration to attend and the Call for Proposals to present are open for the 2017 Reaching the Wounded Student Conference in Orlando, FL, where the focus will be “A Trauma-Informed Approach to Helping Youth Beyond At Risk.” The conference is the perfect staff development event for school/district administrators, teachers, counselors, and community and faith-based youth practitioners. The call for proposals to present will be open through March 17. Find out more at http://dropoutprevention.org/conferences/2017-reaching-the-wounded-student-conference/

Save the Dates for

The Freshman Success Conference: Strong Start—Successful Finish

June 25–28, 2017

Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando, FL

2017 National Dropout Prevention Network Conference

October 22–25, 2017

Palm Springs, CA

What Is a Diploma Planning Institute?

Does your school or school district want to or need to develop a dropout prevention plan? NDPC/N has developed a highly successful workshop called The Diploma Planning Institute (DPI), which is designed to help teams from schools/districts/states work on written dropout prevention plans. For more information on this service, visit NDPC/N’s Web page http://dropoutprevention.org/diploma-planning-institute/ or contact NDPC/N (864-656-2599) or ndpc@clemson.edu for additional details or to arrange a DPI for your state or region.


Registration is open for teams to attend a DPI this February 2017 if you live in or near Ohio. The NDPC/N and the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, Columbus, OH, are teaming up to offer a two-day DPI February 23-24, 2017, in Columbus, OH. For more information and to register, visit http://dropoutprevention.org/dpi-columbus-oh-2017feb23-24/

What Is the National Dropout Prevention Specialist Certification Program?

Specialist Certifiation Program

Join a growing army of educators and practitioners identified as working with and/or on behalf of students at risk of dropping out of school. The National Dropout Prevention Specialist Certification Program is founded on NDPC/N’s research-based effective strategies, known youth risk factors, professional learning participation, and field implementation of acquired knowledge. This certification verifies and strengthens dropout prevention experience and expertise, and facilitates networking with others equally dedicated to dropout prevention. Visit http://dropoutprevention.org/services-certifications/national-dropout-prevention-specialist-certification-program/ for more information or to register for the certification program, or contact us at ndpc@clemson.edu with any questions. NDPC/N has begun posting our new certification program completers on our website. Click here to see and read about some of the first certification recipients—a celebrated group indeed!

Solutions to the Dropout Crisis

"A Systems Approach to Dropout Prevention"

Aired December 13, 2016

3:30–4:30 PM ET

December Solutions

Join Kelly Tonsmeire and Daniel Walker as we explore dropout prevention in the Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD), the largest Rural Education Attendance Area in Alaska in terms of number of schools and number of students. Encompassing an area the size of the state of West Virginia (21,000 square miles), the district runs 27 schools in 23 communities, 22 of which are remote Yup’ik villages. With over 4,100 students, LKSD has one of the highest poverty rates anywhere in the nation and has a student population approaching 98% Alaska Native.

A systems approach to dropout prevention is key to LKSD’s success thus far and is the linchpin for further success. In 2015, LKSD was awarded an Alaska Native Education grant focused on increasing graduation rates through expanded career counseling, increased engagement for students in career exploration opportunities, and professional development for teachers.

In late 2015, LKSD began a strategic thinking process to reform the way schools in LKSD operate. This process engaged the LKSD Board and stakeholders in a systems approach to education reform. Key to this effort was increasing graduation rate and dropout prevention. In spring of 2016, the LKSD Board set several key measures as benchmarks for the district to achieve over the ensuing three years. One key measure is to increase the district’s graduation rate to 75% by the 2019 school year. LKSD’s graduation rate increased from 37% in 2013 to 53% in 2016. While acknowledging this significant progress, LKSD leaders are not satisfied and are endeavoring to do more.

This webcast explores the process, outcomes, and lessons learned from LKSD’s efforts, including the following key takeaways.

  • Reform needs to be systemic.
  • There is no single solution.
  • Dropout prevention is everyone’s work.
  • Collaboration is hard work.

Viewing our Solutions webcasts is always free, and no registration is required. Tune in the second Tuesday of each month at 3:30 PM ET for new Solutions to the Dropout Crisis, sponsored by K12 Inc. and FuelEducation.

Next month’s Solutions topic will be “Alternative Education: Setting a Trend, Breaking a Trend,” with guests Randolph H. Dillingham and 1SG Rodney McCullough from the Anderson (SC) County Alternative School. That program will be aired on January 10, 2017.

Youth Engagement

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network Research Fellows are increasing their focus on the topic of youth engagement (in school and community) and how youth engagement relates to dropout prevention and graduation rate improvement. Along those lines, the Dropout Prevention Update eNewsletter plans to bring at least one article related to that topic to your attention each month.

Two recent blog posts from NDPC/N Research Fellow, Terry Pickeral, focus on youth engagement. In “I Am Curious,” Terry discusses the concepts of creativity, inspiration, questioning, engagement, relevance, and mysteries; whether those concepts are common in today’s schools; and the importance of creating and sustaining a school climate that encourages and responds to the curiosity of students. In “Exposure vs. Engagement,” Terry contrasts the differences between being exposed to concepts and subjects versus being engaged in meaningful experiences that increase knowledge and skills. He lists both some of the expected characteristics of successful high school graduates and some of the many options schools have to engage students (many of which are also, of course, effective dropout prevention strategies). In summary, he says, “schools that focus on engagement and create/sustain an engaging school climate better provide opportunities for each student to acquire and enhance academic, social-emotional, civic and career knowledge and skills.”

A student in North, SC, is making a big impact in the lives and educations of his peers in a small school along what some have called the “Corridor of Shame.” NPR breaks down the details of some of the school’s needs and what 18-year-old Robert Gordon is doing to help. http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/05/31/473240474/corridor-of-shame

Top Stories

Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2013, a report just released in October from NCES, includes detailed information on dropout and graduation indicators.

Achieve analyzed factors in offering and achieving diplomas across different states and explains some of the variables in “How the States Got Their Rates: 2014 Graduates.”

Effective Strategies

Safe Learning Environments

Healthier students are better able to perform in academics and are more likely to have good attendance in school. One study outlined in the article “Is Obesity Associated With School Dropout? Key Developmental and Ethnic Differences” found that early adolescent obesity increased the risk of high school dropout.

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation focuses on building youth self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring, and career development and making the world a kinder place. Visit www.bornthisway.foundation. Click on “Get Help Now” to find resources, help lines, and chat services related to some of the issues youth may be facing.

Early Literacy

A new report from IES’s REL West, High School Graduation Rates Across English Learner Student Subgroups in Arizona, finds that the earlier English learner students achieve English proficiency, the higher their graduation rates. Similarly, long-term English learner students (defined in this report as students who were first identified as English learner students in Arizona prior to grade 6 and had not yet been reclassified as fluent English proficient by the time they entered grade 9) and new English learner students (defined as students who were first identified as English learner students in Arizona in grade 6 or later and entered high school designated as English learner students) had the most difficulty graduating on time. The authors conclude also that more research is needed about how to help high school English learners (long-term and new English learner students) to learn both academic English and subject matter content knowledge during high school.

Educational Technology

Two resources you might use when developing an online learning program for your class, school, or district are Quality Matters (www.qualitymatters.org) and iNACOL (www.inacol.org). Both include information regarding online instructional design and teaching, as well as tools that can be used to evaluate and ensure that programs meet appropriate quality standards.

Read Lisa Nielsen’s blog post, “Fear is Not an Option When it Comes to Social Media in Schools,” which links to numerous resources related to incorporating social media into the classroom and provides tips for parents, teachers, and school administrators.

Professional Development

Browse Education World’s “How I Handled...” blog, http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/archives/how_i_handled.shtml, for inspiring stories from school administrators. Topics include “Bringing Order to Indoor Recess Time,” “Feeling Overwhelmed by the Job of Principal,” “Making Exceptions to Our Student Dress Code,” “Communicating With Parents of Our Growing Non-English-Speaking Student Population,” “Improving Student Attendance,” and many more.

Check out online and on-site course offerings and professional development tools for professional learning, such as those offered through NDPC/N’s innovation partners and resource supporters:

  • DeeperDive Learning, Inc. provides multiple opportunities for professional development through any of their learning programs.
  • Catapult Learning offers on-site professional development on a wide range of topics for educators and administrators.
  • Edgenuity presents online and on-site workshops to equip education professionals with the necessary tools for blended and online education practices.
  • AdvancePath offers and supports in-school, on-site alternative education options and decision-making tools.
  • BrightBytes offers several decision-making tools and advanced and early warning systems options.
  • Vizitech USA has solutions and training related to virtual and augmented learning and can even create virtual training solutions.
  • WIN Learning offers resources, training, and software related to career exploration and skills acquisition to increase core course academic performance as well.
  • K12 and FuelEducation offer online training for blended and online learning environments as well as state-specific information related to online school courses and school options.
  • Edison Learning offers a spectrum of services, from fully managed schools to targeted consulting implementation.

Review and learn about education policy issues, by state, at The Education Commission of the States State Legislation page. Policy related to dropout prevention efforts are scattered across topics listed on this page: http://www.ecs.org/state-legislation-by-topic/ Note particularly the “Attendance” and “At-Risk” categories. Most of NDPC/N’s 15 Effective Strategies, as well as “Youth Engagement,” “School Climate,” “Health, “ESSA,” and “P-16 or P-20,” are listed also as categories of legislation.

Looking for a quick way to brush up on current school-improvement terms and concepts? Visit The Glossary of Education Reform and search for specific terms or just browse A-Z.

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