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Balfanz, R., Herzog, L., & Iver, D. (2007). Preventing student disengagement and keeping students on the graduation path in urban middle-grades schools: Early identification and effective interventions. Educational Psychologist, 42 (4), 223-235

This article considers the practical, conceptual, and empirical foundations of an early identification and intervention system for middle-grades schools to combat student disengagement and increase graduation rates in our nation's cities. Many students in urban schools become disengaged at the start of the middle grades, which greatly reduces the odds that they will eventually graduate. We use longitudinal analyses--following almost 13,000 students from 1996 until 2004--to demonstrate how four predictive indicators reflecting poor attendance, misbehavior, and course failures in sixth grade can be used to identify 60% of the students who will not graduate from high school. Fortunately, by combining effective whole-school reforms with attendance, behavioral, and extra-help interventions, graduation rates can be substantially increased.


Toch, T., Jerald, C., & Dillon, E. (2007). Surprise—High school reform is working. Phi Delta Kappan, 88 (6), 433-437

High school reform has now been on the national agenda long enough that people can begin reaching conclusions about the effectiveness of various approaches to it. This article discusses several strategies of high school reforms which includes: (1) improving school climate; (2) strengthening curriculum and instruction; (3) raising graduation requirements; (4) helping freshmen get up to speed academically; and (5) preventing students from dropping out. Research suggests that more rigorous curricula and tougher graduation standards might "not" hurt graduation rates and might even help improve them. Helping educators become more supportive of students is critical, but doing so produces more significant improvements in student learning when combined with high expectations and rigorous instruction. The authors conclude that high school reform is achievable, if reformers are successful in implementing these strategies.

Montecel, Maria R., Cortez, Josie D., Cortez, Albert (2004). Dropout-Prevention Programs: Right Intent, Wrong Focus, and Some Suggestions on Where to Go from Here

Education and Urban Society 36, 169-188

The factors that contribute to student dropouts have been the focus of extensive deliberation during the last decade. Despite expanded attention, the number of dropouts remains unacceptably high. Drawing on the authors’ 17-year history of dropout research in Texas, Arizona, and across the country, this article describes the alarming dropout rates, especially among Hispanic students; assesses efforts that have been undertaken to address the dropout issue, including proven dropout prevention programs; and provides a new paradigm for preventing dropouts.

Franklin, Cynthia; Streeter, Calvin L.; Kim, Johnny S., and Tripodi, Stephen J. (2007). The Effectiveness of a Solution-Focused, Public Alternative School for Dropout Prevention and Retrieval, Children and Schools, 29 (3), 133-144

This study evaluated the effectiveness of a solution-focused, alternative school in preventing students from dropping out of high school. A quasi-experimental, pretest-posttest group design was used with 85 students to examine differences in credits earned, attendance, and graduation rates. Follow-up data on students in the experimental group were also obtained to track their postsecondary education decisions. Results showed students in the experimental group earned significantly more credits over time than students from the comparison group. More than half of the experimental group had entered a postgraduate education program after graduating from the solution-focused alternative school (SFAS). Conversely, students in the comparison group had higher attendance and graduation rates, but this outcome was found to be related to the differences in the two programs' attendance and graduation policies. The SFAS appears to show promise as an intervention for reducing dropout rates for at-risk adolescents and enabling them to earn high school credits and graduate from high school over time.

Quality Counts 2007: From Cradle to Career--Connecting American Education from Birth to Adulthood, Education Week, v26 n17 Jan 2007

"Quality Counts 2007" begins to track state efforts to create seamless education systems from early childhood to the world of work. This special issue of "Education Week" includes the following articles: (1) Improving Children's Chances (Lynn Olson); (2) Spanning a Lifetime (Christopher B. Swanson); (3) Breaking the Cycle of Poverty (Lynn Olson); (4) Paying Attention Earlier On; (5) Gauging Student Learning (Lynn Olson); (6) Moving Beyond Grade 12 (Lynn Olson); (7) Linking Learning to Earning (Lynn Olson); (8) Losing Global Ground (Lynn Olson); and (9) State of the States (Carole Vinograd Bausell). Individual articles contain references, tables, and figures. The following two links are not-applicable for text-based browsers or screen-reading software.

Vandell, Deborah LoweReisner, Elizabeth R.Pierce, Kim M., Outcomes Linked to High-Quality Afterschool Programs: Longitudinal Findings from the Study of Promising Afterschool Programs, Policy Studies Associates, Inc., 2007

This study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Policy Studies Associates, Inc. finds that regular participation in high-quality afterschool programs is linked to significant gains in standardized test scores and work habits as well as reductions in behavior problems among disadvantaged students. These gains help offset the negative impact of a lack of supervision after school. The two-year study followed almost 3,000 low-income, ethnically diverse elementary and middle school students from eight states in six major metropolitan centers and six smaller urban and rural locations. About half of the young people attended high-quality afterschool programs at their schools or in their communities. (Contains 2 exhibits.)

Empowering Parents School Box: Learning Checklists, US Department of Education, 2007

This booklet provides a variety of checklists to assist parents with their children's learning process and needs from the time they are in preschool to high school, as they begin to consider options for college. Examples of checklists include: Know What Your Preschooler Needs; Watch for School Resources; Partner with Teachers and Counselors; and When Your Child Turns 18. Tips are also offered in specific areas in which parents often have questions. Examples include: Tips for Selecting a Caregiver; Tips for Parents of Kindergartners; and Tips on Paying for College.

Dearing, EricKreider, HollySimpkins, SandraWeiss, Heather B., Family Involvement in School and Low-Income Children's Literacy: Longitudinal Associations between and within Families, Journal of Educational Psychology, v98 n4 653-664 Nov 2006, 2006

Longitudinal data from kindergarten to 5th grade on both family involvement in school and children's literacy performance were examined for an ethnically diverse, low-income sample (N = 281). Within families, increased school involvement predicted improved child literacy. In addition, although there was an achievement gap in average literacy performance between children of more and less educated mothers if family involvement levels were low, this gap was nonexistent if family involvement levels were high. These results add to existing evidence on the value of family involvement in school by demonstrating that increased involvement between kindergarten and 5th grade is associated with increased literacy performance and that high levels of school involvement may have added reward for low-income children with the added risk of low parent education. As such, these results support arguments that family involvement in school should be a central aim of practice and policy solutions to the achievement gap between lower and higher income children.

Weinstein, MerylePakes, JulianaDonis-Keller, ChristineSchwartz, Amy Ellen, From One to Eight: A Longitudinal Portrait of the First Grade Class of 1995-1996. IESP Policy Brief, Institute for Education and Social Policy, New York University, 2008

More than 86,000 students enrolled in first grade in New York City in the fall of 1995. These students were expected to graduate from high school in June 2007. As we seek to understand why some met this goal while others did not, it is critical to know where they began. Researchers followed this cohort for their first eight years of schooling: from their first days in fall 1995 through June 2003 when they were expected to complete eighth grade. To learn (1) the demographic characteristics of the first grade class of 1995-96, (2) who stays and who leaves, (3) who is held back, and (4) the academic outcomes for each group. The New York University (NYU) Institute for Education and Social Policy analyzed student-level data provided by the New York City Department of Education for all first through eighth graders from 1995-96 through 2002-03. This report presents their key findings and insights. (Contains 7 figures and 5 footnotes.)