Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Quitters Never Win

I've got to admit that while lesson planning has my focused attention right now, that's not where my heart is. Our school's graduation rate SUCKS. And there are so many factors to it that are all jumbled inextricably together, making this enormous morass of FAILURE. Bleaugh. And I don't know where to look for information on what to do that actually WORKS. We've found programs that have been shown to improve behavior issues (which we struggle with, but not too much) or student achievement (which IMO could help, possibly) but they're ALL from schools that already had 80%+ students graduating in four years.

Anyway, so every now and then, as I'm reading UbD, my inner cynic stands up and says, "Why are you bothering? The ones who don't want to be here are going to drop out anyway, and the rest of 'em will do just fine once the others are gone."

And there are lots of books about teachers who help at-risk students succeed, but all the ones I've found have been about teachers from inner-city schools, where the students can use the city transit system to stay late or come in early or even over the weekend. I'm at a rural school and we just DON'T have that option.

So what can we do? Is there another rural school that had an abysmally high drop-out rate and somehow improved it?

What can we do?


mrschili said...

I think you've hit on an important bit; if they don't buy into the process, it doesn't MATTER what you do. They won't come if they don't see that what's happening in school has value to them.

If you want to do something, try to get at the heart of what MATTERS to them. Recognize, though, that, as a public school (I'm assuming public school - correct me if I'm wrong), your hands are essentially tied by NCLB. The whole country is discovering that the standards don't necessarily correlate to what lights the spark in kids.

I have the luxury (and trust me, I don't take it for granted for a second), of telling my students that they can either do the work or not - they're adults (at least, legally) and can make decisions that affect their future all on their own. I am up front and clear about my expectations and standards; whether or not they choose to meet them is entirely outside my sphere of responsibility.

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