Education News in Brief

Chicago Students to Play Lead Role in Dropout Project

By Catherine Gewertz — November 17, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A group of student leaders in Chicago has persuaded the city school system to launch a pilot program designed to reduce the dropout rate by making high school more relevant and responsive to teenagers’ needs.

Students from 12 high schools and seven community groups banded together to form Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, or VOYCE, and conducted a yearlong research project to find out why so many young people leave school and don’t attend college.

One of their findings was that students blame themselves, rather than their schools, for the high dropout problem. They also discovered that students disengage from school because they see no connection between their studies and their own lives and futures.

Based on those and other findings, the 409,000-student Chicago school district announced last week that it has agreed to start the first phase of a pilot project in 12 high schools. In eight of those schools, freshmen will develop personalized graduation plans, and those who are having difficulty will have a chance to participate in “guidance retreats” to get them back on track. The district will also set up a process to allow students to have a say in curriculum reform and teacher training.

At some of the schools, VOYCE leaders will help build student-led leadership teams with teachers and administrators and start a leadership academy to train other students how to bring about positive change in their schools. They will also have “community orientations” for teachers to better acquaint them with the neighborhoods they teach in.

Hennessy Williams, 18, who took part in the research enterprise, said the project sends a message to teenagers everywhere.

“They can change things if they want to,” said Mr. Williams, a junior at Kenwood Academy. “But who you talk to about it, and how you do it, matters. You could start a group. You don’t just try to change things, but you do the research first. That can make a big difference.”

Chicago schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan said in a statement that the district “recognizes that students have an important role to play in their education” and that the pilot represents “the first step in a potential series” of programs to better engage high school students.

Details of the project and research are online.

A version of this article appeared in the November 19, 2008 edition of Education Week

Events

Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
The School to Workforce Gap: How Are Schools Setting Students Up For Life & Lifestyle Success?
Hear from education and business leaders on how schools are preparing students for their leap into the workforce.
Content provided by Find Your Grind
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
The Key to Better Learning: Indoor Air Quality
Learn about the importance of improved indoor air quality in schools, and how to pick the right solutions for educators, students, and staff.
Content provided by Delos

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: November 2, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: October 19, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: October 12, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: September 28, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read