15 Effective Strategies for Dropout Prevention
The National Dropout Prevention Center in conjunction with the Schargel Consulting Group has identified 15 effective strategies that have the most positive impact on the dropout rate. Schools that implement these strategies as a package will experience the greatest reward.
The 15 strategies have been divided into four categories. Click on any of the strategies (in blue) for resources and tools to help with implementation of the strategy in your school or community.
School and Community Perspective
Students are part of a school community, but they are also part of the community outside the school grounds. Effective schools are integral parts of their communities and, as a result, have strong business and community support. Attendance and truancy issues are community problems, not just school problems. Therefore, to set the stage for a comprehensive dropout prevention initiative, and concurrently improve student attendance and reduce truancy, there are three critical strategies that serve as a baseline for the other strategies.
A continuing process of evaluating goals and objectives related to school policies, practices and organizational structures as they impact a diverse group of learners.
When all groups in a community provide collective support to the school, a strong infrastructure sustains a caring, supportive environment where youth can thrive and achieve.
Safe Learning Environments
A comprehensive violence prevention plan, including conflict resolution, must deal with the 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.
Research has shown that early identification of poor attendance patterns of children and the ensuing truancy issue are vital to ensuring a successful school experience. When identified early, attitudes and behaviors can often be changed before they are deeply entrenched. These strategies are most effective when implemented at birth, but continue throughout a child's school years.
Early Childhood Education
Birth-to-five interventions demonstrate that providing a child additional enrichment can enhance brain development. The most effective way to reduce the number of children who will ultimately drop out is to provide the best possible classroom instruction from the beginning of their school experience through the primary grades.
Research consistently finds that family engagement has a direct, positive effect on children's achievement and is the most accurate predictor of a student's success in school.
Early Literacy Development
Early interventions to help low-achieving students improve their reading and writing skills establish the necessary foundation for effective learning in all other subjects.
The Basic Core Strategies
Many school districts and communities are seeking effective interventions that target middle and high school students in at-risk situations. The following four interventions have had an impact at all school levels, but seem to be more easily managed in middle and high school. These student-centered strategies provide dynamic and meaningful learning opportunities in alternative, traditional, and community settings, all designed to keep students in school and on a path toward graduation.
Mentoring is a consistent, structured, stable relationship between youth and a caring role model(s) that involves regular, ongoing, and ideally face-to-face meetings and is focused on developing the character, confidence and capabilities of the young person(s). Tutoring focuses on academics and is an effective practice when addressing specific needs such as reading, writing or math competencies.
Service-Learning connects meaningful community service experiences with academic learning. This teaching/learning method promotes personal and social growth, career development, and civic responsibility and can be a powerful vehicle for effective school reform at all grade levels.
Alternative Schooling provides potential dropouts a variety of options that can lead to graduation, with programs paying special attention to the student's individual social needs and academic requirements for a high school diploma.
Many schools provide after-school and summer enrichment programs that eliminate information loss and inspire interest in a variety of areas. Such experiences are especially important for students at risk of school failure because these programs fill the afternoon "gap time" with constructive and engaging activities.
Making the Most of Instruction
What happens in the classroom is at the heart of keeping students in school. Strategies that address the different learning styles of students, increase the knowledge and skills of teachers, and harness the power of technology can increase learning and attendance. These school-based interventions are particularly effective with students in at-risk situations.
Teachers 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, techniques, and learn about innovative strategies.
Active 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.
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.
Each student has unique interests and past learning experiences. An individualized instructional program for each student allows for flexibility in teaching methods and motivational strategies to consider these individual differences.
Career and Technical Education
A quality CTE program and a related guidance program are essential for all students. School-to-work programs recognize that youth need specific skills to prepare them to measure up to the larger demand of today's workplace.
-Compiled from "15 Effective Strategies for Improving Student Attendance and Truancy Prevention" by Dr. Mary Reimer and Dr. Jay Smink, National Dropout Prevention Center
and Schargel, Franklin P. Dropout Prevention Tools. 2003. Eye on Education: Larchmont, NY.