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Tips to Help All Students Graduate

Adjust to student needs. The most successful schools take students from all cultural and educational backgrounds and adjust to their needs, says William Parrett, director of the Center for School Improvement & Policy Studies at Boise State University. This means tutoring and after-school, weekend, or summer programs. Districts may also have to redistribute funds to schools most in need.

Create a positive environment. Creating a climate that is welcoming to students and teachers is necessary before developing strategies, such as increasing time for classroom reading, says Marty Duckenfield, spokesperson for the National Dropout Prevention Center.

Don’t retain students. “The data is very strong—the more you keep a student back, the more likely it is they will drop out,” Duckenfield says. “If it happens twice, it’s almost a given they’ll drop out,” as about 90 percent of students with two years of retention do just that.

Use developmental screenings. These assessments identify children who may need extra help. They can also be a warning flag for disabilities. For example, if children don’t comprehend directions, they may have a hearing problem or may not understand English well. Many children are not screened prior to starting school, and those who are do not get a follow-up exam, says Kyle Snow, director of the Center for Applied Research at the National Association for the Education of Young Children.