To the Editor:
Aristotle said it best: “The fate of empires depends on the education of youth.”
As the graduation-rate data in your Diplomas Count special issue (“Graduation Profile,” June 12, 2007) demonstrate, the line between success and failure in preventing students from dropping out of school is razor-thin. Research suggests that an approach focusing on prevention, intervention, and re-enrolling dropouts is the most effective solution to this national problem. Technology is on the forefront of these efforts, and may just give educators, families, and communities the edge they need to keep students from giving up.
• Prevention. The challenges found in many of today’s classrooms continue to create feelings of disconnection and isolation among students. The interactive nature of technology reconnects these students and makes larger classrooms feel smaller. Technology enables each student to learn content customized for his or her appropriate level, and can address specific learning needs through one-on-one differentiated instruction. These applications of technology significantly reduce students’ academic fears and frustrations—a critical step in dropout prevention.
• Intervention. Intervention works best when students are identified early on as being at risk of dropping out. Technology can help teachers and administrators better track student attendance and academic performance. At the click of a mouse, school officials can observe the attendance and performance of a classroom and access specific information about each student.
• Re-enrolling dropouts. Technology provides both an innovative solution for reducing chronic absenteeism and a vehicle for students to earn multiple credits quickly. Students can access today’s technology on a 24-7 basis at many locations (such as school, home, or a community center), enabling them to get caught up on their studies during weekends or evening hours.
With the potential loss of billions of dollars in wages, tax revenue, and productivity for states, the issue of students’ dropping out isn’t just a concern for schools; it’s a concern for our communities.
Chief Executive Officer