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Whatever it Takes: How Twelve Communities Are Reconnecting Out-of-School Youth and What States Can Do
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Whatever it Takes: How Twelve Communities Are Reconnecting Out-of-School Youth and What States Can Do


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Presentation to U.S. Dept. of Educ. School Dropout Prevention Grantees, July 2006

Presentation to U.S. Dept. of Educ. School Dropout Prevention Grantees, July 2006

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  • 1. Whatever It Takes: How Twelve Communities Are Reconnecting Out-of-School Youth and What States Can Do Nancy Martin American Youth Policy Forum School Dropout Prevention Directors’ Meeting U.S. Department of Education July 28, 2006
  • 2. Today’s Presentation
    • The dropout problem
    • Why dropout recovery?
    • Whatever It Takes report
    • Examples of successful dropout recovery efforts
    • What states can do
  • 3. The Problem
    • In 2004, 6,277,000 18-24-year-olds in the United States (22%) had not yet completed high school.
    • Center for Education Statistics. (2004). Digest of education statistics 2004. Washington, DC, Table 9; Greene, J.P., & Winters, M.A. (2005, February). “Public high school graduation and college readiness rates: 1991-2002.” Education Working Paper No. 8. New York, NY: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
  • 4. The Problem
    • An estimated 3.8 million young people aged 18-24 are neither employed nor in school—15% of all young adults. From 2000 to 2004, the ranks of these disconnected young adults grew by 700,000.
      • Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2004). Kids count data book. Baltimore, MD.
  • 5. The Problem
    • From 1990 to 2000, high school completion rates declined in all but seven states and the rate of students dropping out between 9th and 10th grades increased.
    • Barton, P. E. (2005). One-third of a nation: Rising dropout rates and declining opportunities. Princeton, NJ: Policy Information Center, Educational Testing Service, p. 3.
  • 6. The Problem is Worse for Some
    • In 2001…
    • 72% of female students, but only 64% of male students graduated.
    • African American students had a graduation rate of 50%.
    • American Indian students had a graduation rate of 51%.
    • Latino students had a graduation rate of 53%.
    • there were enormous disparities among state graduation levels, and even larger disparities by ethnicity and gender within the same states.
    • Orfield, G., Losen, D.J., Wald, J., & Swanson, C. B. (2004). Losing our future: How minority youth are being left behind by the graduation rate crisis. Cambridge, MA: The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.
  • 7. The Problem is Worse for Some
    • In SY 2000-2001, high school students from the poorest 20% of families dropped out of school at six times the rate of their peers from higher-income families.
    • US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2004). The condition of education 2004. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, Indicator 10, p. 11.
  • 8. The Problem is Worse for Some
    • In SY 2000-2001, only 47.6% of persons with disabilities graduated with standard diplomas.
    • US Department of Education. (2003). Twenty-fifth annual report to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Washington, DC.
  • 9. Why Dropout Recovery?
    • Prevention important, but very large numbers are leaving
    • Need well-lit pathways back into education and employment training
  • 10. Why Dropout Recovery?
    • In 2001, only 55% of young adult dropouts were employed, compared with 74% of high school graduates and 87% of four-year college graduates.
    • Sum, Andrew et al. (2002). Left behind in the labor market: labor market problems of the nation’s out-of-school, young adult populations. Chicago, IL: Alternative Schools Network. Retrieved December 27, 2005 from
  • 11. Why Dropout Recovery?
    • Dropouts are 3.5 times more likely than high school graduates to be incarcerated in their lifetime.
    • Catterall, J.S. (1985). On the social cost of dropping out. Stanford, CA: Center for Education Research, cited in Alliance for Excellent Education. (2004, December). Measuring graduation to measure success. Washington, DC: Author.
    • Three-quarters of state prison inmates are dropouts, as are 59% of federal inmates.
    • Harlow, C.W. (2003). Education and correctional populations, bureau of justice statistics special report. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice
  • 12. Why Dropout Recovery?
    • Estimated lifetime revenue loss for male dropouts ages 25-34 is $944 billion.
    • Cost to the public of their crime and welfare benefits is an estimated $24 billion annually.
    • Thorstensen, B. I. If you build it, they will come: Investing in public education. Retrieved December 27, 2005 from
  • 13. Why Dropout Recovery?
    • If only one-third of high school dropouts were to earn a diploma, federal savings in reduced costs for food stamps, housing assistance, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families would amount to $10.9 billion annually.
    • Muenning, P. (2005, October). Health returns to education interventions. Paper presented at the symposium on the social costs of inadequate education, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY. Retrieved December 27, 2005 from
  • 14. Why Dropout Recovery?
    • Students who have dropped out tell us they want to return.
  • 15. Case Studies of Dropout Recovery Efforts
    • Whatever It Takes: How Twelve Communities Are Reconnecting Out-of-School Youth
    • In cooperation with Council of the Great City Schools National Association of Secondary School Principals National Conference of State Legislatures National League of Cities National School Boards Association
  • 16. Central Question
    • What can be done to reconnect our young people to opportunities for building useful lives in work, family, and citizenship?
  • 17. Case Studies of Communities
    • A sampling, illustrating various modes of reconnecting out-of-school youth to education, employment, and civic participation
    • A practical resource
    • Not a survey
  • 18. 12 Communities
    • Austin, Texas
    • Baltimore, Maryland
    • Camden, New Jersey
    • Jefferson County (Louisville), Kentucky
    • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • Montgomery County (Dayton), Ohio
    • Oakland, California
    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Pima County (Tucson), Arizona
    • Portland, Oregon
    • Salt Lake City, Utah
    • Trenton, New Jersey
  • 19. National Program Models
    • Job Corps
    • Jobs for America’s Graduates
    • National Guard Youth ChalleNGe
    • Opportunities Industrialization Centers
    • YouthBuild
    • Youth Service and Conservation Corps
    • Youth Opportunity Grant Program
  • 20. Dropout Recovery Efforts Are Varied
    • Program, district, city, county, state, and national level
    • GED prep, high school completion, associate’s degree completion, employment prep
    • Public school districts, CBOs, community colleges, and private companies
    • Schools and programs AND policies and initiatives to encourage such programming
  • 21. Who Pays?
    • Dropout recovery efforts are funded largely by state and local public and private revenues.
    • Federal Investments in second-chance education and training programs has fallen from $15 billion in the late 1970s to $3 billion (inflation adjusted) today.
  • 22. Program Characteristics
    • Open-Entry/Open-Exit
    • Flexible Scheduling and Year-round Learning
    • Teachers As Coaches, Facilitators and Crew Leaders
    • Real-World, Career-Oriented Curricula
  • 23. Program Characteristics
    • Opportunities for Employment
    • Clear Codes of Conduct with Consistent Enforcement
    • Extensive Support Services
    • A Portfolio of Options for a Varied Group
  • 24. Examples of Successful Dropout Recovery Efforts
    • In Portland, OR, Portland Community College is offering former OSY the opportunity to complete high school and an associate’s degree or significant college credit.
    • In Montgomery County, OH, The Out-of-School Youth Initiative has reduced the dropout rate dramatically by targeting programming to 16-24 year-olds without a high school diploma.
    • In Philadelphia, the Reintegration Initiative puts programs and supports in place to prevent young people exiting the juvenile justice system from reoffending.
    • YouthBuild programs across the country are helping young people obtain a GED or high school diploma while learning work skills by building affordable housing.
  • 25. What Can States Do?
    • Provide uniform measures of dropouts and student tracking mechanisms
    • Enact at-risk student legislation
    • Encourage multiple pathways/ alternative options
    • Make provisions for funds to follow students
    • Allow award of competency-based credits
  • 26. 1. Measuring Dropouts and Student Tracking Mechanisms
    • Implement a standard graduation rate definition and data collection protocol
    • Count only those students earning a diploma as graduates
    • Build and maintain capacity for collecting, analyzing, and reporting graduation rate data
    • Example: MD
  • 27. 2. At-risk Student Legislation
    • Mandate that districts:
    • improve the academic achievement of at-risk students
    • provide alternative education options
    • include dropouts in definition of “at-risk”
    • Examples: CA, ID, IA, MN, OR, WI
  • 28. 3. Multiple Pathways/ Alternative Options
    • Encourage districts to offer a variety of options to meet student needs
    • Eliminate barriers to collaboration between public school districts and community-based organizations
    • Allow for various routes to a high school credential without ending up with a system of tracking
    • Increase funding for alternative education
    • Example: OR
  • 29. 4. Funds Follow the Student
    • State education funds follow students as they move in and out of school districts or CBO-run schools
    • Provides incentive for schools to engage in dropout recovery
    • Example: WI
  • 30. 5. Competency-based Credits
    • Allow districts the flexibility to award credit toward graduation based on demonstrated competency, not just “seat time.”
    • Example: OR
  • 31. Emerging Issues for State Education Policymakers
    • Common measures- implementation
    • Age of compulsory schooling
    • Designing accountability systems that work for all students
    • Removing disincentives to honesty
    • Tension between standards-based curriculum and extreme educational needs of some out-of-school youth
  • 32.
    • The nation has more than enough models and know-how to be able to reclaim America’s dropouts.
  • 33.
          • For More Information:
          • Nancy Martin
          • Senior Program Associate
          • American Youth Policy Forum
          • 1836 Jefferson Pl., NW
          • Washington, DC 20036
          • (202) 775-9731
          • [email_address]