Special Report
College & Workforce Readiness

Dropout Recovery Takes Shape Nationwide

By Sarah D. Sparks — May 31, 2013 3 min read
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Across the nation, groups explore new interventions to bring back students who have given up on a diploma.

Alaska: The Chugach school district’s Voyage to Excellence program in Anchorage provides online and summer credit recovery and support, as well as civics education, for returning students in its 22,000-square-mile boundary.

California: The staff at the LearningWorks charter school in Pasadena includes “runners,” a group of trained former dropouts who identify, recruit, and mentor students who have left school. Runners are also required to continue their own education, sponsored by the school, through local colleges.

Colorado: Colorado Youth for a Change, an independent nonprofit group, has set a goal to cut the state’s dropout rate in half by 2017; it was one of the pioneers of finding and reaching out to former students online.

Connecticut: The Hartford-based community group Our Piece of the Pie provides an individual learning plan focused on postsecondary education and a mentor to urban dropouts ages 14 to 24. The group focuses on teaching students to see high school graduation as part of a longer-term college and career plan.

Maine: The Maine Youth Transition Collaborative, a statewide public-private partnership supported by the state education department, works specifically with former foster-care students. Its “opportunity passport” program helps those who age out of foster care complete high school and save money for college, health care, and housing.

Maryland: Ready by 21, an initiative of the Governor’s Office for Children, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and 30 other local government and community groups, integrates academic, health, and career support for older dropouts and other at-risk youths.

Massachusetts: This is the first state in the country to conduct broad “segmentation analysis” of how many credits dropouts of different ages have earned towards their diplomas. The Boston Re-engagement Center, a city and district partnership, supports returning students through hybrid learning, school referrals, and college entrance-exam preparation.

Nebraska: The Directions Diploma (D2) Center provides credit recovery and school referrals for dropouts in Omaha and surrounding rural areas.

New Hampshire: The University of New Hampshire’s RENEW (Rehabilitation for Empowerment, Natural Supports, Education, and Work) program provides returning students with support for social, emotional, and mental-health needs. It helps students plan their own education and work toward career goals, while also helping them learn to build relationships in academic and work environments.

New Jersey: The YE2S Center, a partnership between the city of Newark and Rutgers University, is intended as a “one-stop shop” for returning students, where they can fill out administrative forms for multiple schools and social-service supports such as health care or college counseling.

Ohio: The Achieve Career Preparatory Academy near Toledo provides community re-entry support and high school and college planning to returning students, most of whom have been involved in gang activities and the juvenile-justice system. Students take a career and life-planning course and make 10-year career plans.

South Carolina: The National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., provides online support and resources for educators and schools working with students who have not been able to complete school because of mental, physical, or cognitive disabilities.

Tennessee: Alignment Nashville is a network of more than 350 local government and community organizations in and around Nashville that coordinate social, academic, and health services for dropouts. The group focuses on “generational interventions” to help both parents and children become academically successful.

Texas: The state provided grants and accountability flexibility for districts that bring back dropouts. (See related story, “Texas’ Statewide Strategy.”)

Virginia: The Arlington Youth ChalleNGe Program, a partnership between the Arlington public schools and the U.S. National Guard, trains and mentors dropouts ages 16 to 18 to earn a diploma and engage in community service. It focuses on dropouts who are unemployed and at high risk of becoming involved in drugs or crime.

Washington: The Road Map Project, an education-improvement-oriented community group in Seattle and southern Washington, partners with seven local school districts, four community colleges, and local businesses to plan better alternative pathways for students who are not succeeding in traditional education.

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A shorter version of this list appeared in the print version of Diplomas Count 2013.

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