Who knew that one of the smallest states in our country could have one of the highest graduation rates in our society? Delaware’s current graduation rate is 81 percent. Compare that to Iowa, with one of the highest rates of 90 percent. Could our state’s graduation rate be increased if there were more ways to prevent high school dropouts? States and school districts are using some powerful, long-term strategies to help potential dropouts stay in school. According to experts, some of the reasons for high school dropouts are:
- Lack of parent engagement
- Poor academic performance
- Work/Family economic needs
- Lack of a supportive adult
- Disconnect between school academics and work
- Not enough individualized attention
- Low student engagement
“State officials said Delaware’s high school dropout rate is at record low, and that the graduation rate is up. Out of 38,949 students enrolled in high school, 817 of them dropped out in 2013-2014.” If these students were put in a better predicament where they felt as though they were believed in and supported, could that be a remedy for high school dropouts? The Huffington Post recently ran an article entitled, “America’s School Dropout Epidemic By The Numbers”. Franklin Schargel, a former teacher, school counselor, and school administrator, worked in the New York City school system for over 33 years. Schargel includes five major reasons for why he believes students leave school.
- The students themselves
Students are so wrapped up in the wrong doing outside of school that may lead them to failure, “such as gangs, drugs/alcohol, getting pregnant, and committing crimes. Many have a poor school attitude and are frequently bored by school. They are disconnected to their families, school and life. They do not see the reasons they need to go to school. They are not involved in school activities and lack self-esteem. Because of many of the conditions listed above, they have been suspended and have fallen behind in their work and see little purpose of returning to school”. In the state of Delaware, there are several different infractions in and outside of school. This is a distraction to the students’ education.
- The family they come from
“Many children are products of divorce, separation or, sometimes, family violence. Families are not meeting some children’s basic needs of food, clothing and shelter”. Some of the older siblings in the household have to work or watch over their younger siblings to provide for the needs of the whole family. This takes away their focus from school, because they have the mentality that they need to protect their family. They may not feel as though school is more important than providing for their family values.
- The community they come from
“Many children live on the wrong side of the tracks in places where education is not valued, where drugs, gangs and violence abound. And where schools are low-performing, they often lack community and health support”. When most kids are outside around negative things, they see it to be fun. They’d rather be outside with their friends or somewhere doing things aren’t what’s expected of them, than be inside completing their homework for school. These unprofitable environments are another problematic way to take away a student’s acknowledgement for what is right and wrong.
- The schools they attend
“Students are suspended for minor infractions (such as “talking back to the teacher”) The curriculum is not relevant to the needs of the students being taught. Passive instructional strategies are being used without regard to individual student learning styles”. A student may not want to be in a predicament where they feel as though they are just going to be noticed for the trouble they cause or the damage they’ve done. They want to be commended and praised for the things they do well and right as well.
- The teachers they have
“They are leaving the field faster than colleges can prepare them. The teacher “dropout rate” is higher than the student dropout rate. Forty-six percent of teachers leave the field within five years. When asked why they leave, a majority state that they haven’t been properly prepared…” If teachers are positioned with a random group of kids of an age group that they have never worked with before, they might be confused or unable to handle those students as far as behaviors. Teachers that are hard on their students only see the negative things that a student has to go to school for. However, if they only see the nuisance in a student, they’d never realize the positive things that one may have to put forth. Students look up to their teachers to be some of their role models and leaders. If teachers are leaving the field, who will the students have to look up to in school?
Remedies for these problems are available to try to make a difference in students’ academic year and performance. However, if none of them get solved, could these situations become worse? Could our state’s graduation rate decrease because of these obstructions that students are involved in or surrounded by?. Roberta Furger has formulated a few solutions for school dropouts.
- Engage and Partner with Parents
Engaging and partnering with parents could inform them on how their child is performing in school, and the amount of effort they put forth in school. Parent involvement could be important to teachers who want to know that their students’ parents are on their team to support their child. “But although the role of parents changes in secondary school, their ongoing engagement — from regular communication with school staff to familiarity with their child’s schedule, courses, and progress toward graduation — remains central to students’ success.”
- Cultivate Relationships
“A concerned teacher or trusted adult can make the difference between a student’s staying in school or dropping out.” Students comfortability is very important in the school environment. If students are going there to learn, they should feel comfortable and safe with their surroundings, teachers, and students. They should be able to trust their teachers to treat them fairly as everyone else, and there should be a bond between them.
- Making Learning Relevant
“Boredom and disengagement are two key reasons students stop attending class and wind up dropping out of school.” If students are not interested in what is being taught, their focus is going to be very limited. Their academic performance will be very poor because of the lack of attention they have. Learning has to be in a way that students can understand and be engaged in.
These solutions for the causes of school dropouts could be very beneficial. Any state’s graduation rate could be increased or decreased by the decisions of students, teachers, and parents. If 100 percent effort is put in towards school, and work, we will achieve success. All students’, teachers’, and parents’ involvement and participation in the effort of trying to prevent school dropouts is what will increase Delaware’s graduation rate. And who knows, maybe our graduation rate could some day be higher than Iowa’s!
Elmore, Tim. “Four Solutions to School Dropouts.” Tim Elmore. Growing Leaders, 7 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
Albright, Matthew. “Delaware High School Dropout Rate Hits Record Low.” Delawareonline. The News Journal. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.