The overwhelming majority of individuals who have left school before graduation say they would like to return — and would do so if the conditions were right.
But creating those conditions isn’t always easy. Dropout recovery is exceptionally hard work. After all, the factors that pushed students out of school to begin with don’t just magically go away when they decide to re-enroll.
Not usually, at least.
Recently, while talking to a student in Michigan named Kiana, we realized something. Once in a while, the factors that prompted a dropout event do resolve themselves. And that means the right condition for return is a simple invitation.
“When I was a junior, I was bullied really badly by a girl who was a senior in my high school,” Kiana told us. “I always thought that whenever that girl graduated maybe I would consider coming back, but at the start of the next year I didn’t really know how to register for classes again, and I was honestly really embarrassed that I’d given up when things got hard. No one contacted me, so I just figured my chance had passed.”
Once Kiana’s district began reaching out to students who had left school before graduation, they found that she was not only ready and willing to return, but really excited to do so.
Not every student is so easy to re-engage. But some are. A study in Boston showed that more than half of disengaged students who were invited to come back to school were still enrolled a year after their re-entry — even when absolutely no further academic or social interventions took place.
The same study demonstrated that recovered students who were provided such interventions were tremendously more likely to still be in school — and that’s a vital finding — but the fact remains that most school districts in our nation aren’t doing the one simple thing they could be doing to get more students to graduation day.
They’re simply not asking students to return.
This is just one of the many lessons that have come out of our latest report, “The problem is real: Why districts with ‘good’ and ‘bad’ graduation rates alike need dropout recovery, and what it takes to make it work.”
Would you like to learn more about the steps you can take — without much cost or effort — to help more students re-engage? You can get a copy of the report by clicking here.