Dropout Prevention Update
From the National Dropout Prevention Center
March 2020—Vol. 20, No. 2
Resources for Schools and Teachers During School Closings
School closures are traumatizing our students, families, and educators, presenting a new dropout risk factor and requiring us to develop immediate virtual solutions. The National Dropout Prevention Center (NDPC) offers topical videos and virtual professional development to support schools and educators during current uncertain times.
Video 1: The Trauma of Pandemic School Disruption John Gailer, developer of the Trauma-Skilled Schools Model, explores the far-reaching implications of trauma related to school disruption for students, staffs, families, and the community at large. View video here https://youtu.be/c0adDQH4Hro
Video 2: School Disruption as a Dropout Risk Factor. Dr. Sandy Addis, Director of National Dropout Prevention Center, discusses the short- and long-term effects of school disruption on the nation’s dropout rates. View video here https://youtu.be/jeoWYeQuAWo.
Video 3: Virtual Learning in a Time of School Disruption. Ray McNulty, President of Successful Practices Network and National Dropout Prevention Center, explores the advantages of capitalizing on virtual learning. View video here https://youtu.be/Y29CjY7NLRA.
Online Trauma-Skilled Courses: Online courses can deliver high-impact virtual professional development to educators who must work remotely during extended school shut down periods. NDPC offers five online courses in the Trauma-Skilled Schools Model, one course for each step of the model. Each of the three-hour interactive virtual courses addresses a component of chronic stress and trauma. Together, the five courses prepare an educator to implement trauma-skilled measures and to support other educators in their work with trauma-impacted students.
Online Effective Dropout Prevention Strategies Courses: NDPC offers 16 online courses focusing on one of each research-based dropout prevention strategy. Each three- to five-hour interactive virtual courses addresses a specific dropout prevention strategy and prepares educators to apply the strategy to improve graduation outcomes. Online effective strategy courses can deliver high-impact virtual professional development to educators who must work remotely during extended school shut down periods.
Free or Reduced Cost Virtual Professional Development
Hundreds of videos, archived broadcasts, and downloadable publications are available at no cost on the NDPC website. School systems are encouraged to access these resources and have staff members utilize them as professional learning tools during times of school closure. These resources may be previewed and accessed at www.dropoutprevention.org.
Reduced Fees for Online Courses:
For a limited time, NDPC is providing blocks of online courses to schools and districts at significantly reduced cost. Rather than the standard cost of $99 per course, NDPC offers blocks of 50 courses at $50 per course, blocks of 100 courses at $40 per course, and blocks of 250 or more courses at $35 per course. Schools and districts wishing to purchase blocks of online courses for professional development during shutdown periods may review these courses at http://dropoutprevention.org/15-effective-strategies-online-courses/ and may send an email inquiry to email@example.com.
Each month, NDPC curates interesting and effective initiatives from across the nation utilizing the 15 Effective Strategies for Dropout Prevention. This month, we’re featuring the effective strategies of Alternative Schooling, Early Childhood Literacy, and Early Childhood Education followed by grant opportunities for practitioners.
Alternative schooling provides students a variety of options that can lead to graduation, with programs paying special attention to the student’s individual social needs, workforce skills, and academic requirements for a high school diploma.
While alternative schooling is often associated with middle and high school, there are alternative options for some kindergarten and elementary schools, such as Athens Forest Kindergarten. Athens Forest, located in Athens, Georgia, allows children from 3- to 6-years to go to kindergarten in the woods, where they learn emotional and relational skills through nature. The alternative kindergarten focuses on allowing children to explore and learn in a less structured curriculum.
An alternative education program in Polk County, Oregon, creates a community of high school diploma-oriented and GED-seeking students to share electives in a new partnership. The program is targeting students who are credit deficient or have school attendance barriers. In Centennial, Colorado, Cherry Creek Innovation Campus gives students an alternative schooling opportunity through industry-recognized certifications for students. Students attend their regular school part-time and then attend the innovation campus in the afternoon. Developing workforce skills and giving students a chance to explore job opportunities right out of high school as an alternative path fills a community need.
Futures Alternative High School in Boone, Iowa, offers not only an alternative school setting, but also an alternative high school degree for students. The Boone Basic diploma requires 36 instead of the 48 class credits that a traditional degree would. The core classes are the same as required for a traditional degree, but there are fewer required electives. Coursework can be done online or in the classroom, allowing students fixability based on their needs.
Early Childhood Literacy
Early literacy interventions to help low-achieving students improve their reading and writing skills establish the necessary foundation for effective learning in all subjects.
Libraries are often a critical resource for early literacy development in many communities. In Centerville, Maryland, the Queen Anne’s County Library is using grant money to create and distribute early literacy kits. The early literacy kits include scarfs, stacking blocks, crayons, finger paints, play dough, lacing boards, egg shakers, and Spanish language board books. The kits were distributed to families who came to their family center and through a home visit program, encouraging families to support early literacy development. Sheppard’s Memorial Library in Greenville, North Carolina, is using community partnerships to put on events that stress the importance of early childhood literacy. The library's events engage family members and teach them about early brain development and good reading strategies for their children.
Hopkins County Schools in Kentucky used grant money to buy over 700 books to give to 3- and 4-year-olds in their district. The $60,000 grant from the Kentucky Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Initiative is being used by the district to improve literacy and support pre-academic skills in its early learners. Teachers in the community took time to develop reading guides that go along with the books, focusing on literacy and numeracy. The program’s goal is to prepare more children for kindergarten throughout the district.
A recent study published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly by Leiah Thomas from The Ohio State University examined children identified as at risk for later literacy difficulties through their early writing skills compared to their peers. She found that children who test as behind in literacy also lag in early writing skills such as name writing, letter writing, invented spelling, and story composition in preschool. This suggests that children who are identified as behind in literacy should also receive help in writing.
Early Childhood Education
Birth-to-five interventions demonstrate that providing a child with additional enrichment can enhance brain development. Also, the most effective way to reduce the number of children at risk is to provide the best possible classroom instruction from the beginning of their school experience through the primary grades.
A childhood development center in Snoqualmie, Washington, is expanding to add early childhood therapy services. After receiving a grant from M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the Encompass Northwest Early Learning Center will begin construction on a new building to expand their offerings to children and their families. A focus on therapies including speech, feeding, social skills, behavior, and rehabilitation will help to provide services for the students as well as wrap-around services for the whole family. Lawmakers in Colorado are proposing a bill that would add behavioral health staff to early childhood education centers and train teachers to create classroom environments that promote students’ social-emotional development. The bill will expand ongoing initiatives by supporting mental health care across the state in a variety of early childhood settings and practices
A new study in the journal Child Development found that regardless of families' socioeconomic backgrounds, preschoolers whose parents gave them frequent opportunities to do simple math problems and played games at home showed better arithmetic growth and performance by the end of kindergarten than children with less-engaging early math environments at home. The study highlights the importance of the family working with young children in more areas than reading. Blending reading and math can also be beneficial for young learners as the activities can build on each other. The study also found that operational math activities such as addition and subtraction are linked with a better vocabulary.
Cadillac Area Public Schools in Michigan will offer a junior kindergarten to bridge the gap between preschool and kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds. The program will provide a full day of instruction to provide younger children more time and support to develop their skills than kindergarten allows. The district’s goal is that this junior kindergarten will help cut down on their current kindergarten recidivism rate.
Deadline: October 1
Grants of up to $500 will be awarded for a variety of projects and materials, including but not limited to books, software, calculators, math manipulatives, art supplies, audio-visual equipment, and lab materials. Funds must be used within one year of the application deadline. Classroom grants are available to all full-time educators who have not received a scholarship or grant from AAE in the past two years. Awards are competitive.
Deadline: October 1
Grants of up to $500 will be awarded for a wide variety of professional development opportunities and materials. These include conferences, in-services, and materials for PLCs. The scholarship will cover all associated costs with attending these events or obtaining these materials. Teacher scholarships do not cover classes or materials in pursuit of a graduate degree. Classroom grants are available to all fulltime educators who have not received a scholarship or grant from AAE in the past two years. Awards are competitive.
Awards of up to $10,000 are awarded to existing and provably successful literacy programs that have been designated as having tax-exempt status according to the IRS Code Section 501(c)(3), or equivalent educational institutions, including public libraries. Believe in Reading targets successful literacy programs that serve populations that show out-of-the-ordinary needs, such as geographic areas with low reading scores and high poverty levels. Believe in Reading’s grants are renewable for up to three years, but a first-year award does not guarantee any subsequent awards.
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