To ensure every student graduates HS, 1st we need to understand why some don’t. New Grad Nation report helps explain http://t.co/5xS6f1m2ep
— Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) May 22, 2014
And, because I'm always interested in what Arne has to say, I followed the link. And I think Arne maybe didn't actually read it.
The link goes to a report from Gradnation, a project of the America's Promise Alliance that addresses the problem of students not finishing school. Here's what they found out.
Explaining why young people leave high school is at once quite simple and overwhelmingly complex. Young people’s words often illustrate the interplay among factors like absent parents, the impact of violence close to home, negative peer influences, and a sense of responsibility for others.
Researchers found s cluster of twenty-five factors that influenced decisions about school, including adults, family upheaval, safety, peer influence and becoming a parent. Toxic environments at home were a huge factor, and school was not always found to be a safe alternative.
The researchers also found that a desire for some sort of human connection also drove much of the behavior. Students who left school often cited a failure to find a connection with a caring adult in the school.
Contrary to what grittologists might suggest, researchers found that the young people leaving high school often displayed considerable courage, resilience, persistence and personal agency. They had the toughness; what they lacked was some help and guidance in directing it.
The researchers concluded :
1) Students who leave school are stronger than current conventional wisdom says.
2) Students who leave school often do so because they face huge life challenges that "push school attendance far down their priority list."
3) They find it easier to not attend than to attend, or to start back in again.
4) They emphasize how important connections to parents, peers and other adults matter.
5) Everyone in a young person's life can help.
And the researchers offer these concrete recommendations:
2) Provide at-risk students with extra support
3) Community "navigators" are needed to help students stay in school.
4) Follow the evidence of what works
5) Place young people in central leadership roles to design and implement solutions
I don't know who these folks are (though the website has a nice picture of Colin Powell on it) but the results of this study make sense to me, so it passes that sniff test. I suspect may not be super-rigorous and feels urban-skewed. But here's the thing. This was a recommendation from Arne's own tweet (or Arne's own intern's own tweet-- I still have my doubts). Please notice, Arne, the things it does not say:
It does not suggest that students drop out because school is not rigorous enough.
It does not suggest that teachers are the most important factor in whether or not the student stays.
It does not suggest that a super-duper high stakes testing program would make things better.
And it especially does not say-- in fact says the opposite-- that what these kids need is a swift kick in the pants and a push to develop more grit and persistence.
So I am grateful to Arne for tweeting this link. Now I wish he would read it himself.