Build on What Works to Tackle Dropout Rate

Let’s not rush to start new programs as the first response to the report featured in the Boston Globe article “4-year diploma rate lags in Hub” (9/29/07).  The statistics revealing that nearly half of Boston public high schools don’t graduate on time is certainly troubling; however, the first step should be to seek proven programs already serving Boston students that could scale up given increased resources.

 

Citizen Schools and the Boston Urban Youth Foundation are two examples of innovative programs that help to improve school performance and attendance of middle school students.  Given what the new study tells us about the risks of being behind or having spotty attendance by eighth grade, programs like this for middle schoolers should garner increased support. 

 

But earlier prevention efforts warrant more resources in the wake of this report too. For example, Generations Incorporated places Experience Corps volunteers in elementary schools to increase the reading skills of students through one-on-one tutoring and mentoring.

 

A new program in response to a study like this has a certain glamorous appeal.  But first strategizing about how successful existing models can be expanded, then developing new programs to fill gaps, is the most effective way to address this important problem.