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The Daily Dish: Providing Opportunities for Struggling, Underserved Students

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July 21, 2015 03:03 pm

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The Daily Dish digs deeper into one of the day’s top news stories on K–12 education. Make sure to add High School Soup to your RSS feed for all the latest updates and follow the Alliance on Twitter at @All4Ed for more education news.


As education strategist and author of Deeper Learning: How Eight Public Innovative Schools are Transforming Education in the 21st Century  Monica Martinez wrote in the new entry to the Alliance’s Core of the Matter blog series, efforts like the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that aim to “minimize the unevenness of learning experiences and ensures that all students, no matter their ethnicity or economic status, graduate prepared for college, careers, and citizenship” can go a long way towards giving struggling students opportunities they might otherwise go without.

Martinez reflects how the practice of using track systems in public schools that shut many low-income students and students of color out of more challenging courses puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to being adequately prepared for college and career. She concludes that with the implemented CCSS, all students are now able to break free of the track system, being given equitable opportunity to be prepared for the demands of college-level work.

An attempt to reach college-level demands continues among first-generation students. Education Week’s Catherine Gewertz dives further into a report from ACT and the Council for Opportunity in Education that finds “many children whose parents didn’t go to college aim for degrees in higher education, but they’re far less prepared to go to college than their peers who grew up with college-educated parents.” Gewertz explains that 31 percent of first-generation students who took the ACT in 2014 failed to reach college-readiness benchmarks on the test, with only 9 percent of those students reaching all four benchmarks. “A look at the hard numbers is a bracing reminder of how much support first-generation college students need, and how often our schools are falling short of providing it,” she writes.

For some students, the struggles they face in school may be rooted in overwhelming events they are facing in their personal lives outside of school. Lisa Higuera, a graduate student in the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work and Sol Price School of Public Policy, wrote in a blog for EdSource this week that schools and school leaders should work to ensure children who struggle with school are not dismissed as lost causes. Through her own experiences – both personal and professional – Higuera asserts that, “Students who suffer trauma are still children deserving of school support and their right to an education, and there are ways we can help them.”

She points to the work being done under the Schoolwide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program as an example of ways districts and district leaders can create positive school climates for students who need it most. Higuera writes: “It is impossible to go back in time and help the hundreds of students who dropped out from my middle school and high school, students who were supposed to graduate with me but did not. However, I see great potential for helping improve student outcomes from here on out.”

Davenport Community School District in Davenport, Iowa is attempting to help the students that have dropped out of its high schools. Michael Hart of T.H.E. Journal reported Monday that “After discovering in 2010 that the third largest school district in Iowa had more than a 10-percent dropout rate, it launched its Dropout Reengagement Initiative.” Now, after reducing that rate down to less than 5 percent, Hart said district officials want to focus on keeping students from ever leaving school – even if that means taking all the coursework home with them. “With the help of Graduation Alliance, students will receive laptops that they can use to complete their studies in the self-directed online fully accredited program,” wrote Hart.

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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.