There is one phrase that is among the most common to hear in a federal education policy conversation: the nation’s lowest-performing schools. In fact, I think I probably say it at least twice a day. There’s another phrase, though, that’s equally important yet far less common to hear: the nation’s most at-risk students.
Since the inception of No Child Left Behind, federal education has focused primarily on improving underperforming schools as its vehicle to boost the outcomes of struggling students. The most recent iteration of the federal School Improvement Grant program has only cemented this emphasis. Unfortunately, the school-centered focus has emerged without a parallel student-centered focus on those who are most at risk of dropping out of high school.
To be sure, both strategies are necessary—it’s important to improve struggling schools so as to prevent students from falling off track to graduation in the first place, but a student can fall off track at any high school, whether it is considered to be one of the nation’s worst or not.
In New York City, this point is not lost. As part of its nearly decade-long effort to transform its school system, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) has balanced a dual emphasis on both its lowest performing schools and its most at risk students, or those who are off track to graduate from high school with their peers.Read Entire Post