As a result of statistical analysis, nationwide research, student surveys and student testimony, the following actions appear warranted as interventions before a student drops out:
1. Establish Behavioral, Academic and Attendance Drop Out Indicators at the Middle School Level or Earlier.
Behavioral, academic and attendance indicators provide very clear early warning signs of impending abandonment of any formal educational goal well before a student reaches 9th grade. Establish the “look fors” before a child reaches 9th grade.
2. Identify At-Risk Students Before They Reach 9th Grade.
Using the behavioral, academic and attendance indicators to identify at-risk students is crucial at the middle school (or even elementary school) level and critical if appropriate interventions are to be implemented.
3. Intervene with At-Risk Students Before They Reach the 9th Grade.
Notable in the research is a consistent theme when it comes to student dropout behaviors: students at risk of dropping out perceive, as early as 6th grade, that they are different from their peers, and less respected by both peers and teachers. Early Intervention is pivotal for any program seeking to reach dropouts; a dropout’s perception of respect (or lack of respect) continues to be a driving force behind the decision to attain or forgo a high school diploma.
4. Provide Intense Supports for At-Risk Students As They Transition From Middle School to 9th Grade.
As previously identified, the greatest risk-period for dropouts isn’t the year the ultimate decision to abandon school is made; it is the year they enter and attempt to complete 9th grade. Supports for those identified as at-risk (i.e. frequent absences in middle school, one or more failing grade, etc. – See above, Section (1)) are of paramount importance in 9th grade. Personal, individualized interventions and constant monitoring are statistically the most impactful interventions related to dropout preventions.
The dropout crisis is systemic. We need to provide support for these at-risk students before they actually become a lost voice.