TEA news releases online
July 14, 2010
National dropout report to laud Texas’ prevention efforts
AUSTIN – A new national dropout report to be issued later this summer will laud Texas’ far-reaching strategies for reducing the number of high school dropouts.
“Texas stands out for its coherent and far-reaching strategy to put dropouts and struggling students at the center of high school reform,” says an independently conducted report called Six Pillars of Effective Dropout Prevention and Recovery to be issued by Jobs for the Future (JFF). This national non-profit organization develops, implements and promotes new education and workforce strategies that help communities, states and the nation compete in a global economy.
Adria Steinberg, a vice president at JFF and coauthor of the forthcoming report that examined dropout prevention efforts nationwide, said “We’ve got two populations that generally lack college-ready skills—the 1.2 million who drop out of high school each year and many more who struggle to earn a diploma with little chance of achieving more. Many policies concerning these programs predate the need for a college degree to earn a family-supporting wage. These policies must change.”
The report notes that Texas is one of the states that is addressing the dropout situation in a comprehensive manner. “Drawing on the latest research on predicting dropouts, Texas uses its at-risk student indicator system to trigger significant reforms (and resources) targeted toward schools and students with the greatest need. In 2003, Texas built on this foundation by enacting the state’s first legislation on early college high schools (SB 976), adopting the National Center for Education Statistics definition of a dropout (SB 186), and appropriating $60 million for high school completion and success programs. In 2007, the state enacted HB 2237, Texas’s comprehensive policy approach to reduce dropouts and increase the number of students who graduate ready for postsecondary success. Also that year, Texas enacted HB 1137, which authorizes funding for school districts to help young people up to age 26 receive a high school diploma,” the report says.
It also notes that HB 1, passed in 2006, created the high school allotment, which provides $275 per pupil to be used to implement programs and practices that increase college and career readiness.
“The state’s omnibus dropout prevention law, HB 2237, codified some of the state’s secondary school reform efforts and laid the groundwork for its forward-thinking dropout prevention agenda,” the report continues.
Commissioner of Education Robert Scott said, “Although too many students still drop out of schools, Texas is aggressively addressing the problem through a number of programs. It’s nice to get recognition for this comprehensive effort that involves the legislature, the Texas Education Agency, educators, students and parents working together to create success for students.”
The four-year dropout rate in Texas fell from 11.4 percent for the Class of 2007 to 10.5 percent for the Class of 2008, which are the most recent statistics available published by the Texas Education Agency. Out of 300,488 students in the Class of 2008, 79.1 percent graduated, 8.9 percent continued in high school, and 1.5 percent received a GED.
“The increased graduation rate and the declining dropout rate are strong signs that our approach is working,” the commissioner said.
The JFF report examined six model policy elements that frame a sound strategy for dropout prevention and recovery:
- Reinforce the right to a public education;
- Count and account for dropouts;
- Use graduation and on-track rates to trigger transformative reform;
- Invent new models;
- Accelerate preparation for postsecondary success;
- And provide stable funding for systemic reform.
JFF found that only three states, one of which is Texas, have made progress on all six pillars since 2002.
The Texas Education Agency has focused its efforts around four proven research-based strategies:
- Learning environments are challenging and personalized for each student.
- Mentors are used as role models and advocates for students.
- Students who are behind in school receive academic support.
- Data systems identify struggling students who need early intervention.
Additional information about the state’s efforts to reduce the dropout rate can be found at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=3505&menu_id=2147483659.
The JFF report that details the work of all states is available at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=2147485353.