City Leaders Offer Strategies to Help Dropouts Get a Diploma

By Caralee J. Adams — December 13, 2013 1 min read

At a time when recent data indicate the high school graduation rate is inching up, there still are nearly 2 million young people ages 16-21 who are not in school or have not finished their high school education—and the problem is especially acute in urban areas. Each year, nearly 1 million students leave high school without a diploma, according to Education Week’s Diplomas Count analysis.

The National League of Cities released a municipal action guide Thursday to provide leaders with strategies, highlighting the promise of one-stop reenagement centers to serve high school dropouts. The idea is to have one location (physical or virtual) where students can be assessed individually on their academic abilities, learn about different education options, and get a referral to an appropriate school or program to earn their high-school equivalency diploma.

There is a growing network of reengagement centers with successful models in cities such as Denver, Boston, and Omaha, the guide notes. Often it takes state policy changes to support reengagement efforts and the National League of Cities features Washington state as the best example on that front with its new Open Doors Youth Reengagement System. It conducted a study that projected $250 million in savings for every 600 dropouts who reengaged and the state set up programs in 22 communities to serve students.

The guide offers five strategies for cities to consider:

1. Highlight dropout engagement as a necessary complement to dropout prevention;

2. Frame the issue of dropouts as a community problem, not just a school district problem;

3. Develop an effect communications strategy to keep the reengagement of dropouts in the public eye;

4. Focus dropout reengagement on preparation for the workforce, as well as high school completion; and

5. Embrace a cross-system approach, working with juvenile justice, child welfare, and workforce development agencies.

Once a center is established, the league suggests evaluating the effectiveness of its approach and having a plan for continuous improvement. The guide includes resources for cities and school districts to use to explore options in addressing the dropout problem in their communities.

(For more information on trends in programs for high school dropouts, see Education Week‘s special report, Diplomas Count 2013.)

A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.


Early Childhood Live Online Discussion The Impact of the Coronavirus on Early-Childhood Learning
Join Peter DeWitt and his guests on A Seat at the Table as they discuss the implications of coronavirus on early-childhood learning.
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.
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Recruiting and Retaining a More Diverse Teaching Workforce
We discuss the importance of workforce diversity and learn strategies to recruit and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Michigan Data Coach- (MGLVA)
Michigan, United States
K12 Inc.
Program Manager, State Solution Delivery
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Director of Education
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington Public Library
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: February 3, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read