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dropout prevention

Superintendent Arthur W. Tate of Iowa’s Davenport public schools has launched several programs to keep at-risk students from dropping out.

Superintendent Arthur W. Tate of Iowa’s Davenport public schools took over a 27-school district with nearly 16,000 students that had recorded the state’s highest urban dropout rate. The rate has been decreasing steadily, thanks to several programs Tate launched to keep at-risk students in school.

Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard visits with students at lunchtime.

A new agreement to fund programs that keep high-needs students on track from preschool through graduation marks the first formal partnership between two New Orleans’ school systems that work side by side.

Superintendent Jim McIntyre interacts with Knox County elementary school students.

Knox County Schools is a flourishing district in Tennessee, with most of its 15 high schools having graduation rates above 90 percent. Within the last five years, the district has also has also seen modest gains in reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies as measured by the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests for grades 3 through 8.

Clark County Superintendent Dwight D. Jones, right, meets with one student last September.

To add to the busy schedules of high school principals and assistant superintendents, they go door-to-door to speak with students—and their parents—in the Clark County (Nev.) School District. These students have dropped out of high school, and administrators are encouraging them to return and pursue a diploma.

After years of controversy, court battles, and a disbanded cultural studies program, the Tucson (Ariz.) Unified School District is turning to a new program to raise the achievement of Hispanic students.

Martha Liddell, superintendent of Columbus (Miss.) Municipal School District

America’s dropout crisis is so severe that one in four students does not finish high school. Unless graduation rates increase, nearly 12 million students will likely drop out over the next decade, with an estimated national loss of $1.5 trillion in lost wages and increased social costs due to crime and health care, according to a 2012 report “Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic.”

Superintendent Jim Brown

Critics of failing systems often ask the same chicken-or-egg question: Do educators and environment cause kids to fail, or do failing students weigh down the teachers and districts around them?

A new battle cry of American education seems to be college and career readiness. School professionals are being urged to graduate students who can be successful in college and ready for a career. In a speech before Congress in 2009, President Obama raised the bar when he declared that “every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.”

Proliferating across the country at what seems lightning speed is a law that grants parents an unprecedented degree of power to intervene in the fate of underperforming schools. First adopted in California in January 2010 and spurred by the Parent Revolution group out of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), what’s become known as the “parent trigger” law says that when a majority of parents with children in schools designated “failing” under No Child Left Behind demand administrators be replaced or that the school reopen as a charter, the district must comply.