Leaving to Learn: How Out-of-School Learning Increases Student Engagement and Reduces Dropout Rates
As the weather heats up and the summer months draw near, people everywhere are on the hunt for summer reading material. To help in this search—while also engaging individuals in a robust discussion on education policy—the Alliance for Excellent Education is proud to announce its summer Alliance Book Club webinar series (#All4edBook).
The debut book club selection is Leaving to Learn: How Out-of-School Learning Increases Student Engagement and Reduces Dropout Rates, written by Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski.
In Leaving to Learn, Washor and Mojkowski argue that efforts to stem the dropout crisis and engage all young people in deep and productive learning will continue to fall short unless educators address the problem of student disengagement.
Watch the webinar at http://media.all4ed.org/webinar-may-22-2013.
One in four high school students do not graduate and just 12 percent of the nation‘s high schools produce nearly half of the nation‘s dropouts. Within these lowest-performing high schools (sometimes known as "dropout factories"), just 60 percent or fewer of entering freshmen progress to their senior year three years later.
Prioritizing the Nation's Lowest-Performing High Schools, an issue brief from the Alliance, notes that the lowest-performing high schools are located in every state; in urban, suburban, rural, and small-town America; in large high schools and small. Their one unifying characteristic is that they disproportionately serve our nation‘s poor and minority students.
In an era of diminishing financial resources, it makes good economic sense to target the nation's lowest-performing high schools and focus attention, commitment, and resources on improving them, the brief argues. Directing strategic efforts to turn around these schools could significantly reduce the nation's dropout rate.
"When emergency medical personnel arrive at an accident scene, they immediately deliver treatment to the most severely injured, said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. "Similarly, the nation must focus its attention on the lowest-performing schools with the largest number of ‘victims' in the national dropout crisis. The fact that these schools are so widespread and contribute so greatly to the national dropout crisis dictates making them an essential focus of any federal effort to improve the graduation rate."
While not a graduation rate, a school’s “promoting power” is a good indicator of how well schools are educating their students. See how high schools across the country perform by going to the Promoting Power database. High schools with promoting power less than 60 percent make up the nation's lowest-performing high schools.
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How does your high school stack up against the best in the world?
In a recent Alliance webinar, Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Skills and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD),discussed findings from the OECD Test for Schools, a new test that permitted more than 100 U.S. high schools to measure their students’ abilities against top-performing countries throughout the world.
Test results provide participating schools with a wealth of information on teaching and learning and show that some U.S. schools performed quite well. Beginning next school year, all U.S. schools can participate in the test.
Schleicher was joined by Terri L. Breeden, Assistant Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools (VA), who discussed what the test results meant for her large school district; Bethany Little, Managing Partner at America Achieves, who discussed how schools can participate; and Alliance President Bob Wise, who moderated the discussion.