College & Workforce Readiness

Phila. Vows to Fix Dropout Problem

By Rhea R. Borja — October 24, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A coalition of education, government, and social services agencies in Philadelphia launched a citywide campaign last week to decrease the city’s high school dropout rate.

The Philadelphia Youth Transitions Collaborative announced the $2 million Project U-Turn initiative, which includes policy recommendations and steps the school district, the local government, and other stakeholders will take to stem the dropout rate.

The city is one of five nationwide with campaigns to reduce dropout rates; their efforts are funded by three national philanthropies and local contributors.

The Philadelphia effort aims to cut the number of high school dropouts by 25 percent—or by more than 2,000 students—by 2010. It will also work to raise the number of student spaces in alternative education programs by almost 50 percent, from 2,800 to at least 5,000, by 2008, according to “Turning It Around,” one of two reports released by the collaborative in conjunction with the project announcement.

“Philadelphia has a dropout crisis,” write Ruth Curran Neild and Robert Balfanz, the authors of the second report, “Unfulfilled Promise,” and both research scientists at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University. “Even the most optimistic estimates paint a disturbing picture.”

More than 8,200 Philadelphia public school students—about 6 percent of students in grades 6-12— dropped out in 2003-04, according to the researchers.

Some of the changes needed to keep students in school are already in progress, said Melissa J. Orner, the vice president for communications and development at the Philadelphia Youth Network, the nonprofit group coordinating the citywide effort.

They include helping to redesign the 194,500-student district’s alternative education programs, improving an educators’ toolkit on how to better serve older students with low literacy skills, and better aligning the curriculum and occupational training in Philadelphia’s six main juvenile-detention institutions so students can make better transitions into public schools, she said.

“In that transition is where the drop-off happens,” she said. “That’s part of the sense of discouragement and failure that helps [push the students] to drop out.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the October 25, 2006 edition of Education Week


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.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
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.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

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 Q&A A College Admissions Expert Explains What Going Test-Optional Means for High School Seniors
The movement to test-optional college admissions is helping colleges diversify their enrollments, this expert says.
5 min read
Image of a row of people using computers.
College & Workforce Readiness Spotlight Spotlight on Career-Readiness & Real-World Skills
This Spotlight will help you analyze student interest for in-demand jobs, investigate the benefits of youth apprenticeships, and more.

College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says The High School Credit-Hour: A Timeline of the Carnegie Unit
The credit-hour, often known as the Carnegie unit, has been the essential measure of American secondary and higher education for more than a century. Here's how it started.
4 min read
Shadows of Walla Walla (Wash.) High School seniors waiting to enter graduation are cast on a school wall.
Shadows of Walla Walla (Wash.) High School seniors waiting to enter graduation are cast on a school wall.
Greg Lehman/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin via AP
College & Workforce Readiness The Head of the Carnegie Foundation Wants to Ditch the Carnegie Unit. Here's Why
The group that made credit-hours the high school standard for more than 100 years says it's time for a new metric of student success.
5 min read
Educators with strings tied to each of the clock hands and pulling them in different directions.
iStock/Getty Images Plus