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CTE: A Method for Dropout Prevention and Recovery


June 27, 2013


CTE: A Method for Dropout Prevention and Recovery

Education Week and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center are sharing the good news about high school graduation and dropout rates, while warning that we need to do more to get out-of-school youth back on track.

Findings presented in the 2013 edition of Diplomas Count peg the nation's high school graduation rate in 2010 at almost 75 percent (other recent research has placed the 2010 graduation rate at about 78 percent). In addition, there were almost 100,000 fewer dropouts in 2010 than in the previous year, driven by improvements in the persistence and graduation rates of Latino and black students.

However, as Education Week writer Sarah D. Sparks point out, without recovering students who have fallen off track, we will not meet the Graduation Nation goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by the end of the decade. There are currently almost 2 million young people between the ages of 16 and 21 who have left high school without a credential. Recovering them into the education system will benefit not just these individuals but also the public, which reaps up to a 300 percent return from dropout prevention and recovery investments. 

Dropout recovery solutions highlighted in the report include re-engagement centers that help returning students find on-site or online classes, connect with social supports and plan for college and career, as well as Youth Connection Charter Schools that help students earn college credits while finishing high schools. In addition, a recent event focused on dropout recovery shared the successes of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program, a structured program for at-risk youth that develops life and educational skills through a 22-week residential phase, followed by a yearlong mentoring relationship.

Dr. Jonathan Zaff of America's Promise Alliance, speaking at the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe event, pointed out that engaging students in learning means "find[ing] that spark," and that spark may not be the same for all young people.

CTE can be that spark for many youth, through an emphasis on hands-on, relevant and contextualized learning; options for earning college credit and valued credentials; a focus on building teamwork and leadership skills in class and through career and technical student organizations (CTSOs); and the opportunities it offers students to build supportive relationships with CTE teachers, CTSO advisers, career guidance professionals and fellow students.

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