College & Workforce Readiness

Chicago’s Would-Be Dropouts Must Sign Consent Form

By Darcia Harris Bowman — March 24, 2004 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Students who want to drop out of high school in Chicago must now sign a consent form that warns about the likely consequences of not earning a diploma.

The disclosure form, which must also be signed by parents, is part of an amended dropout policy adopted by the Chicago board of education last month that officials say builds on a series of recent efforts by the city district to curb its dropout rate and reduce truancies.

See Also...

View the accompanying table, “Dropout Form.”

“Parents and students need to be aware of what the possible consequences are of dropping out of school, before they make a choice that may dramatically impact their life,” Arne Duncan, the district’s chief executive officer, said in a Feb. 26 statement announcing the new policy.

The district must also provide families with other notices as well. Those include: a description of the educational services, such as tutoring, that a child waives when he or she leaves school early; information about a student’s right to return to school unless he or she is too far behind to graduate by age 21; and information on alternative education services.

Finally, the policy calls for providing statistics for students and their families that illustrate the consequences of dropping out of school—a requirement that is partly fulfilled by the new consent form.

In signing that form, students must acknowledge that they are “less likely to find good jobs that pay well, bad jobs that don’t pay well, or maybe any jobs,” and that they increase their chances of ending up in jail or prison.

The form ends with the principal’s signature and a final statement in bold: “It’s not too late to stay in school.”

Deterrent Effect?

The Chicago school system has an annual dropout rate of roughly 13 percent, a record low since the city’s mayor took control of the 435,000- student school system in 1995, according to district officials. State law requires all children age 15 or younger to attend schools.

Requiring informed consent from would-be dropouts between the ages of 16 and 18, and their parents, is a rule that replaces an old policy that allowed students to inform schools of their decision to leave with a mere telephone call.

District officials say the form also builds on other policies adopted recently by the school system. Those include setting school attendance goals, offering attendance incentives to schools such as concerts and celebrity visits, placing social-service workers in schools with the lowest attendance records, and better training staff members to identify family and personal problems that might interfere with a student’s ability to come to school.

Still, some critics say the consent form won’t be much of a deterrent for students who have given up on school.

“This is not a dropout- prevention policy. It’s a cover-your-ass policy,” charged G. Alfred Hess, a professor of education and social policy at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who has studied the Chicago school system.

“The statement is good and might scare a few students into not signing the form,” Mr. Hess added, but “it is unlikely it will keep any kids in school and lead towards their graduation.”

Most students drop out of school because they have failed to earn enough credits to continue, the researcher said.

“Students who are not making this progress and still have no or few credits when they turn 16 are making a rational decision when they drop out,” he argued. “They are saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got nothing to show for the last two years. Why would I suddenly be successful in the next four years that it would take for me to graduate at age 20?’”

The best ways to prevent students from leaving school early without diplomas, Mr. Hess said, is to raise achievement levels and improve instruction. Both are goals that the district has had limited success in meeting, he said.

Related Tags:

Events

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
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
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
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

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

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion It May Be Time to Retire the Carnegie Unit. Are There Better Measures of Learning?
The Carnegie Foundation popularized seat time as a measure of learning. Now, the organization’s president lays out a new vision.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness The Motivational Power of STEM: This Program Connects Students to Potential Careers
It's not just about motivation—it's about providing supports for kids to study STEM subjects.
8 min read
Karma Chea and Dela Zhao, both 12th graders at Thurgood Marshall, practices the use of a pipet at SFUSD Mission Bay Hub in Byers Hall of the UCSF Mission Bay campus in San Francisco on April 29, 2024. Chea was placed in a fellowship in the orthopedic oncology surgery program at UCSF under the sponsorship of Dr. Melissa Zimel. Zhao placed in a fellowship in the nephrology program at UCSF under the sponsorship of Dr. Delphine Tuot.
Seniors at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School in San Francisco practice the use of a pipette as part of a STEM initiative on April 29, 2024.
Peter Prato for Education Week
College & Workforce Readiness The Botched FAFSA Rollout Leaves Students in Limbo
Some students wonder if their college dreams will survive.
6 min read
Ashnaelle Bijoux poses on campus, Saturday, April 27, 2024, at Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, Conn. Bijoux, a senior at NFA, has been unable to complete the FAFSA form due to a glitch with the form. Without the form and the financial aid it brings, Bijoux won't be able to pursue her goal of going to Southern Connecticut State University to become a therapist.
Ashnaelle Bijoux poses on campus, Saturday, April 27, 2024, at Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, Conn. Bijoux, a senior at NFA, has been unable to complete the FAFSA form due to a glitch with the form. Without the form and the financial aid it brings, Bijoux won't be able to pursue her goal of going to Southern Connecticut State University to become a therapist.
Jessica Hill/AP
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says New Data Paint Bleak Picture of Students' Post High School Outcomes
Students are taking much longer to complete credentials after high school than programs plan.
2 min read
Student hanging on a tearing graduate cap tassel
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty