This conference will provide participants with inspiration, research and practical strategies to implement change with a strand focused on Supporting At-Risk Students. This strand will be presented by the National Dropout Prevention Center and will share proven practices for engaging and supporting at-risk students including NDPC’s Trauma-Skilled Schools Model.
Teachers and counselors who work with youth at high risk of academic failure need to feel supported and have an avenue by which they can continue to develop skills and techniques and learn about innovative strategies. Quality professional development, individualized to meet school, district, or practitioner goals, can increase effectiveness in addressing the needs of at-risk students.
A research report by the New Teacher Center, a national non-profit organization that focuses on improving student learning by guiding new teachers, found that the return on investment for professional development can pay off for decades. Their research around high-intensity mentor support for new teachers from 2013 to 2017 showed that every dollar that was invested in the teacher induction program resulted in a 22 percent return the following year in reduced teacher attrition. The findings highlight the importance of constant professional development for teachers. Christine Murphy Judson, director of talent acquisition for Chicago Public Schools, says, “Coaching and mentoring are consistently a key component of teachers choosing to return to our schools and classrooms year after year, creating stability for school communities and students."
In Indiana, the Indiana Department of Education held its inaugural Teacher Leaders Bootcamp. Fifty educators from across the state were involved in the five-day sessions. The blended lessons including webinars and in-person classes that are an effort by the state to improve recruitment, retention, and development of excellent educators by helping them gain knowledge and experience, build connections and engage in professional learning. Harper Elementary School in Valdosta, Georgia, recently held a professional development day looking at strategies to integrate social studies lessons into daily readings. The professional learning day was focused on keeping social studies relevant to the student’s curriculum despite changing state standards.
Technology offers some of the best opportunities for delivering instruction to engage students in authentic learning, addressing multiple intelligences, and adapting to students’ learning styles. Online learning and credit recovery options are key approaches to use.
Drones are flying at Colorado Springs School District 11’s North Middle School as students build their own drones and prepare to earn Federal Aviation Administration certifications as drone pilots. Two teachers from the school spent two weeks during the summer participating in a drone flying course to become certified by the FAA so they could teach about drones in classes focused on technology. The curriculum surrounding the drones shows students how drones are used as tools in many industries and exposes them to possible careers.
Introducing technology to students is an essential form of engagement for learning. Salem High School in Merrimack Valley, New Hampshire, engages students and visitors with Techfest. For ten years Techfest has exposed students and the community to the STEM field. With technology from defense contractors to the high school’s robotics team, the event encourages younger generations to get involved with robotics early.
In Gwinnett County Schools, Georgia, the district has been recognized for its implementation of digital citizenship lessons. Students are learning about how to use technology to engage in society, politics, and government. The lessons are focused on how to use the Internet regularly and effectively. The district sees this as a priority in an increasingly digital world. Gwinnett County Schools was also recently recognized for its use of virtual learning days. With one-to-one technology in the district, the schools can cancel school in case of inclement weather and allow the learning to continue, providing flexibility for both students and teachers without sacrificing instructional time.
When all groups in a community provide collective support to the school, a strong infrastructure of partnerships sustains a caring environment where youth can thrive and achieve.
Collaboration between the school and community allows businesses and other organizations to have a positive impact on students’ education. In Pomona, California, students at Emerson Middle School have partnered with the Institute for Public Strategies and My Pomona Community Garden to create a garden and offer urban gardening plots to students and parents. The garden was planned with input from Cal Poly Pomona’s Huntley College of Agriculture that focus-grouped ideas for how the garden could best serve the community and helped with the collaboration between the two nonprofits.
Darlington Middle School in Darlington, South Carolina, is also making use of its outdoor space through a school-community collaboration by creating a hands-on science-focused Research Courtyard program. The pilot program is being made possible by a grant from Duke Energy with support from the Pee Dee Public Education Collaborative and Clemson University. The courtyard will support research-oriented projects in line with the state standards for middle school students. The program is being designed so that it can be expanded to other schools in the future through collaborations.
Community involvement in education comes in many forms such as that at Apache Junction High School where community volunteers serve as tutors for the AVID program. In Apache Junction, Arizona, the city allowed the school to use their multi-generation center as a meeting place for tutoring while Fry’s Foods donated lunches for the students and tutors. The community collaborations that help support the AVID program play an important role in exposing students to positive role models and showcase resources open to them in their own community.
A recent research report published by the Coalition for Community Schools and the National Association of School Psychologists has determined nine elements for sustaining partnerships that improve students' mental and physical health. These elements include: a leadership team comprised of school and community stakeholders; a designated person located at the school to lead the coordination of school-community partnerships; clear expectations and shared accountability for the school and community partners; ongoing comprehensive professional development for all school leaders, staff, and community partners; a detailed plan for long-term sustainability; and regular evaluation of effectiveness through a variety of measures. While recognizing that every school and community is different and that the elements should be adapted to the unique contexts of students, families and the community itself, the elements offer an effective means to chart a course in developing strong school–community partnerships.
Deadline: March 1, 2020
Grants of up to $24,000 are awarded to provide incentives for master’s degree level graduate study of the history, principles, and development of the U.S. Constitution; and strengthen teaching in the nation’s secondary schools about the principles, framing, ratification, and subsequent history of the U.S. Constitution. A national competition is held annually to select teachers, college seniors, and college graduates to be James Madison Fellows. Individuals must be U.S. citizens or nationals who currently teach or plan to teach American history, American government, or social studies in Grades 7 through 12.
Deadline: August 11, 2020
Exploratory grants of up to $400,000 with durations of up to two years and strategies grants up to $1.2 million with durations up to three years are awarded. SPrEaD grants up to $2 million with durations of three to five years are awarded. The Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program promotes PreK through Grade 12 students’ interests and capacities to participate in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communications technology (ICT) workforce of the future. To do this, ITEST supports the development, implementation, and selective spread of innovative strategies for engaging students in experiences that: (1) increase students' awareness of STEM occupations; (2) motivate students to pursue the appropriate education pathways for STEM occupations; and (3) develop disciplinary-based knowledge and practices, or promote critical thinking, reasoning, or communication skills needed for entering STEM workforce sectors. ITEST projects may adopt an interdisciplinary focus on one or more STEM domains or focus on subdiscipline(s) within a domain. ITEST projects must involve students and may also include teachers. ITEST is especially interested in broadening participation of student groups from traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM and related education and workforce domains.
Deadline: January 12, 2020
Awards of up to $5,000 will be awarded to help teachers innovatively implement technology in their classrooms to increase student achievement. For the 2018-2019 school year, over 1,300 grant applications were submitted, and 179 grants were awarded based on each project's overall innovation and anticipated positive impact on student achievement in the classroom.
The National Dropout Prevention Center offers a number of free or low-cost resources on our website www.dropoutprevention.org
Over 500 educators and practitioners have enrolled in the National Dropout Prevention Specialist certification program. The program is founded on NDPC’s research-based effective strategies, known youth risk factors, professional learning participation, and field implementation of acquired knowledge. The certification verifies and strengthens dropout prevention experience and expertise and facilitates networking with others equally dedicated to dropout prevention. Visit www.dropoutprevention.org/services-certifications/national-dropout-prevention-specialist-certification-program to register.
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