Serving the highly vulnerable and highly variable population of students who may drop out requires the ability to address challenges quickly, effectively, and in ways that are inherently motivational. Graduation Alliance’s flexible approach includes:
- Recruitment through Multiple Channels: Programs must use multiple strategies for identifying and recruiting this highly-variable and often-mobile population of students.
- Tailored Program Options: Students drop out for a variety of reasons; successful programs identify the specific challenges associated with the dropout event and present a program customized to resolve each set of challenges.
- Anywhere, Anytime Learning: Dropouts tend not to be able to return to a regular school due to a variety of social/emotional and life challenges, and require learning solutions that work within their schedules.
- Accelerated Learning: Dropouts may be daunted by the number of credits required to receive a high school diploma; enabling them to recoup credits more quickly than they can earn in a traditional school year can be highly motivational.
Every aspect of a dropout recovery program — from staff, to process, to curriculum — must aspire to be of the highest quality possible, by maintaining accountability for outcomes as well as processes. Graduation Alliance believes that characteristics of effective programs must include:
- High Standards: Students are held to high standards, are aware of these standards and the consequences of not meeting them, and are held to consistent, clear consequences when standards are not met.
- High-Quality Instructional Materials: Curriculum and instructional materials are standards-based, student-centered, and grounded in experiences related to students’ lives.
- Frequent Assessment and Remediation: Students’ academic progress is assessed frequently, and specific interventions are implemented in a timely manner when students’ academic success is in jeopardy.
- High-Quality, Well-Trained Staff: Dropouts Instructional and support staff demonstrates expertise in their areas of responsibility and receive ongoing training in effective curriculum and instruction methods.
- Continuous Program Improvement: Programs must engage in routine, comprehensive program evaluation activities using high-quality data in order to make program adjustments and modifications.
The dropout population often faces overwhelming academic and social obstacles. Graduation Alliance believes that successful programs build and maintain intensive support networks to address both areas of student need. The characteristics of effective programs include:
- Adults Who Care: Students receive ongoing personal support from instructional staff, coaches, and advocates who truly believe and have a keen interest in their success.
- Case Management Approach: Each student receives tailored interventions that address their social and academic needs; follow up is frequent.
- Parental Support: Programs build capacity for parents to become engaged in and support their children’s educational progress.
- Life Planning: Students’ aspirations are validated and supported through careful planning and frequent, productive follow-up.
- One-On-One Instruction: Students are not simply seats in a class; frequent opportunities for one-on-one academic support are available.