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October 2007 | Volume 65 | Number 2
Early Intervention at Every Age
Ruth Curran Neild, Robert Balfanz and Liza Herzog
By promptly reacting to student distress signals, schools can redirect potential dropouts onto the path to graduation.
The alarm has sounded. The United States has a high school graduation crisis. The crisis does not stem, however, from any precipitous drop in the percentage of students who graduate. In fact, graduation rates are about as high as they have ever been. What makes current graduation rates alarming is a reality of the new U.S. economy: It is practically impossible for individuals lacking a high school diploma to earn a living or participate meaningfully in civic life. Adding to the urgency is evidence of disproportionately low graduation rates among low-income and minority youth. Recent estimates suggest that between one-third and one-half of minorities do not earn a high school diploma (Education Week, 2007).
Policymakers and educators have tended to view dropping out of high school in two contradictory ways. On the one hand, they view it as predictable, given the high dropout rates in certain demographic categories and geographic locations. At the same time, they view the experiences that precede a specific student's dropping out as mysterious, difficult to predict, and idiosyncratic. Some students unaccountably “become bored with school”; “fall in with the wrong crowd”; or experience a jarring life event, such as a pregnancy or a parent's unemployment, that precipitates their dropping out of school.
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Copyright © 2007 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
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