Dropout Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery News From NDPC/N

Vol 20, no 1 January 2020

Dropout Prevention Update

From the National Dropout Prevention Center
January 2020—Vol. 20, No. 1

National Lessons Learned Conference for K-12 Schools

February 17-19, 2020
Westin Charlotte
Charlotte, NC

2019 NDPC

Registration is open for the National Dropout Prevention Center’s very first National Lessons Learned Conference for K-12 Students, February 17-19, 2020, at the Westin Charlotte in North Carolina. The conference will provide opportunities for school and district teams to learn and work together on their local plan while being supported by expert practitioners, model programs, and national thought leaders.

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.

Trauma-Skilled Schools Institute

February 17-19, 2020
Westin Charlotte
Charlotte, NC

2019 NDPC

Registration is open for the Trauma-Skilled Schools Institute, February 17-19, 2020, at the Westin Charlotte in North Carolina.

The Trauma-Skilled Schools Institute is a two-and-a-half-day professional development event that provides in-depth training in the National Dropout Prevention Center’s Trauma-Skilled Schools Model. The Trauma-Skilled Schools Model focuses on the implications for adverse childhood experiences on school behavior and learning, the development of essential resiliency skills in the classroom and in other school experiences, and on acquisition of educator skills that enable trauma-impacted students to succeed in school.

The Trauma-Skilled Schools Institute goes beyond “trauma-informed” and “trauma-sensitive” to action. The Institute may be utilized as a first step for schools to begin local implementation of the Trauma-Skilled Schools Model, may be a beginning step for schools desiring to implement the model with additional training and support of the National Dropout Prevention Center, or may be utilized by participant as one of several additional professional development activities leading to individual certification as a Trauma-Skilled Specialist.

Effective Strategies

Individualized Instruction

Differentiated learning embraces teaching and learning strategies that engage and involve students in the learning process. Students find new and creative ways to solve problems, achieve success, and become lifelong learners when educators show them that there are different ways to learn.

Individualized learning and instruction can be a difficult strategy to integrate into the traditional classroom. At Ambition Prep in Jackson, Mississippi, kindergarten teachers integrate reading strategies into small groups where they can focus on students’ individual needs. They find that while individualized learning is tough to develop with a large classroom, breaking students up into groups allows the teachers to check in with each of their students.

A grant funded by Foundations in Education has allowed St. Mark School, in Stratford, Connecticut, to initiate a personalized learning program. Teachers at the school create learning experiences by rotating students through learning stations designed around meaningful, engaging learning tasks that enhance the skills of their students. Teachers note that they benefit from the opportunity to lead targeted, small group instruction and individual student/teacher conferences. The school is also using educational software and computers so that students can pursue an independent learning path that helps inform teacher instruction.

An innovative school model using real-time student progress monitoring at the MLK Learning Center Dallas, Texas, is shaping the way individualized instruction is carried out and leading to impressive student growth. All teachers at the school are committed to the Accelerating Campus Excellence initiative, which helps teachers and students use new and innovative learning strategies that best fit the students’ needs. Students work around circle-shaped desks, allowing teachers to circulate and deliver individual assistance while writing down notes about students' progress on “clipboards”. The clipboards are real-time monitoring tools that allow teachers to assess students’ progress on their in-class assignments, giving teachers the ability to see which students are struggling and need personal attention.

Safe Learning Environments

A comprehensive violence prevention plan, including conflict resolution, must deal with potential violence as well as crisis management. A safe learning environment provides daily experiences, at all grade levels, that enhance positive social attitudes and effective interpersonal skills in all students in all classrooms.

As the challenges that face school safety evolve so should states’ support systems in intervention and prevention. Colorado is working to stay ahead of the curve with its Safe2Tell program, a tool used by schools to help prevent violence and tragedies from occurring by identifying youth who are struggling. The program acts as a tip submission line so that schools can gather information from students through a safe anonymous reporting environment protected by state law. Lowndes County Schools in Valdosta, Georgia, are working to simplify internal communications over safety issues and threats by installing a crisis alert system that uses an app to quickly send out a message to all teachers and staff about safety issues. The school district sees this as the first step in becoming more prepared while providing peace of mind for staff, students, and families.

While Safe Learning Environments often go beyond the walls of the classroom there is plenty of work to be done within them. Social Justice Humanitas Academy in Los Angeles, California, is working with researchers to create a positive school culture characterized in part by the presence of strong, trust-based relationships that help facilitate a sense of belonging among students. They have found that this improves outcomes for at-risk students. The school focuses on creating trusting relationships, becoming attuned to students’ cultural backgrounds, and modeling critical social skills.

The Centre for Mental Health has published a report noting that restrictive interventions such as seclusion, exclusion, and restraint can further traumatize students already experiencing difficulties regarding mental health. The report notes that in creating a safe learning environment, it is important that schools do not echo relational trauma and systemic trauma. Isolating and excluding children for disciplinary reasons can lead to unsafe and distracted learning situations for all students.

Active Learning

Differentiated learning embraces teaching and learning strategies that engage and involve students in the learning process. Students find new and creative ways to solve problems, achieve success, and become lifelong learners when educators show them that there are different ways to learn.

Yoga balls, yoga mats, desk bikes, and other gym equipment fill a first-grade classroom at Liberty Elementary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as part of a new action-based learning program. An Action-Based Learning room allows students to rotate through different activities while practicing typing and reading. Each activity is based on scientific studies of children’s brains and how children learn.

Classrooms to Careers in Flagler County, Florida, is creating active learning opportunities by helping students in Marine Science and Conservation Flagship programs take part in restoring the local ecosystem. Students assist the fish hatchery in tracking the progress of fish so that they can be released back into the ecosystem. Students also collect plastic bottle caps for recycling and have switched their schools plastic lunch trays to a biodegradable tray to reduce plastic waste. These active learning strategies allow students to become more involved in their education and use what they have learned in the classroom for their community.

In a collaborative active learning project, students from four schools in Northeast Missouri came together using their science, technology, engineering, and math skills to complete a local history project. The students helped dedicate a monument of a local bridge that included a panel created from pieces of the bridge. The two-year project required that students from the four schools submit proposals utilizing knowledge from multiple subjects to create a fitting memorial.


The Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant

Deadline: Year-round
The Bush Foundation provides Community Innovation grants of $10,000 to $200,000. Community Innovation grants may be awarded to 501(c)(3) public charities or government entities (including schools). Coalitions or collaboratives are eligible to apply, but only one organization may receive the grant. The grant supports communities that have identified a problem and want to implement a solution while engaging the community and other organizations.

Fund for Teachers

Deadline: Year-Round
Grants of $5,000 to $10,000 are awarded for professional development. Fund for Teachers is unique in that it awards grants for professional development based on the principle that the teacher knows what they need to grow as an educator. These grants are self-designed and allow teachers to create their own professional development opportunities based on what is most beneficial to their teaching. The Fund for Teachers application encourages educators to think about their objectives and motivations and the impact their particular plan of action will have on students.

Steelcase Active Learning Grant

Deadline: February 3, annually
Grants valued at $132,000 are awarded to schools for furniture, design review, and installation to create active learning classrooms. The grant comes with on-site training and a Learning Environment Evaluation measurement tool. This grant is open to institutions that focus primarily on formal, instructor-led learning in a designated classroom. Applicants must also serve Grades 6-12, up to 30 students in a classroom and be located in the United States or its territories.

NDPC Resources

The National Dropout Prevention Center offers a number of free or low-cost resources on our website www.dropoutprevention.org

Read NDPC’s quarterly newsletter at http://dropoutprevention.org/resources/ndpcn-quarterly-newsletters/

Access NDPC Dropout Prevention E-Newsletters at http://dropoutprevention.org/resources/e-newsletters/

NDPC journals are available at http://dropoutprevention.org/resources/journals/

Archived Solutions to the Dropout Crisis webinars are available at http://dropoutprevention.org/webcast/

NDPC offers a series of online courses based on the 15 Effective Strategies for Dropout Prevention. Each course is individually priced and is self-paced and interactive, including video clips and self-assessments. Go to http://dropoutprevention.org/15-effective-strategies-online-courses/ for more information.

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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