School & District Management News in Brief

Schism on Dropout Problem Seen

By Catherine Gewertz — June 09, 2009 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Teachers and principals are far more likely to blame parents and students than themselves or their schools for the high school dropout problem, according to a new study.

A report issued June 4 explores teachers’ and principals’ perceptions of the dropout issue. The study, based on focus groups and telephone interviews with 603 teachers and 169 principals from public high schools, follows two others done on the topic by the same organization, the Washington-based policy group Civic Enterprises. In 2006, “Silent Epidemic” explored dropouts’ attitudes toward school. Last year, “One Dream, Two Realities” mined parents’ views of the dropout problem. (“H.S. Dropouts Say Lack of Motivation Top Reason to Quit,” March 8, 2006, and “Parents Show Strong Interest in School Involvement,” Oct. 29, 2008.)

More than three-quarters of teachers surveyed for the new report said students themselves or parents bore most of the responsibility. Fewer than 20 percent blamed themselves, their schools, society, or elected officials. When principals were asked the same thing, more than 70 percent placed most blame on parents or students, but were more likely to assign themselves (22 percent) or their school systems (28 percent) primary responsibility than were the teachers who were interviewed.

Suggestions From the Trenches

Percent of educators saying each would help a lot to reduce the number of students who drop out.

BRIC ARCHIVE

SOURCE: Civic Enterprises

The study also uncovered what it called an “expectations gap” between teachers and principals on the one hand, and students on the other, when it comes to analyzing and responding to the dropout crisis.

Two-thirds of the dropouts said in the 2006 report that they would have worked harder had more been expected of them, but three-quarters of the teachers and two-thirds of the principals said they didn’t think students would work harder if demands were more stringent.

Fewer than one-third of teachers and nearly six in 10 principals said they agreed with the statement, “We should expect all students to meet high academic standards and provide extra support to struggling students to help them meet those standards.” Six in 10 principals and four in 10 teachers agreed that there should be “a separate track to allow students who are not college- bound to get a diploma without achieving high standards.”

In focus groups, teachers said they had high expectations for their students, but seemed dubious that all students could reach college readiness because of challenges at home or poor academic preparation for high school. They also believed that they and their students were not getting the necessary support and resources to improve performance.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the June 10, 2009 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
Families & the Community Webinar
How Whole-Child Student Data Can Strengthen Family Connections
Learn how district leaders can use these actionable strategies to increase family engagement in their student’s education and boost their academic achievement.
Content provided by Panorama Education
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

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

School & District Management District Pays $50,000 Fine to Scrub Confederate Leaders' Names From Schools
The fine to Montgomery, Ala., schools stems from a 2017 state law designed to preserve public memorials.
4 min read
A pedestal that held a statue of Robert E. Lee stands empty outside a high school named for the Confederate general in Montgomery, Ala. on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Two Montgomery high schools will no longer bear the names of Confederate leaders. The Montgomery County Board of Education has voted for new names for Jefferson Davis High School and Robert E Lee High School, news outlets report.
In this June 2020 photo, a pedestal that held a statue of Robert E. Lee stands empty outside a high school named for the Confederate general in Montgomery, Ala. The Montgomery school board voted this month to pay a hefty fine to the state in order to rename Robert E. Lee High and another school named for Confederate leader Jefferson Davis.
Kim Chandler/AP
School & District Management After a Rash of Student Suicides, This School District Stepped Up
Hopeless at first over a student mental health crisis, Colorado's Cherry Creek school leaders decided to build a day-treatment program.
13 min read
Image of a bridge made of puzzle pieces with the middle piece moving to connect the two sides.
Nuthawut Somsuk/iStock/Getty
School & District Management What Superintendents Say They Need More of to Help Them Manage Districts
98% of those surveyed said better data would make them more comfortable making decisions.
2 min read
Image of a data dashboard.
Suppachok Nuthep/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Principals Give Thanks—and Shoutouts—to School Support Staff
Custodians, lunchroom aides, secretaries, and bus drivers are “too often forgotten and underappreciated.”
7 min read
Image of a framed smiley face.
zakokor/iStock/Getty