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Summit Gathers Educators to Reduce Dropout Rate
Washington named Jobs for America’s Graduates state

LACEY — December 6, 2010 — The statistics are grim: About three out of every 10 public middle- and high-school students drop out of school. How to reduce that number was the primary concern of a one-day conference held today.

The Dropout Reduction Summit brought together 250 members of the state legislature, statewide experts, state agency representatives, researchers, policy makers, students and other stakeholders to generate solutions to curb our dropout crisis.

“The dropout problem is society’s problem,” said Randy Dorn, state superintendent of public instruction. “Dropouts earn less money, and they have a higher likelihood of early pregnancies, substance abuse, incarceration and publicly funded health and social services.

“That’s why reducing the dropout rate is one of the top priorities of my administration.”

The goal of the summit is to mobilize stakeholders from across the state to build:

  • An awareness of the scope and impact of the dropout crisis on both individuals and society;
  • A shared vision across multiple sectors, including education, social and health services, community-based organizations, nonprofits, and businesses that are committed to the idea that all Washington youth can graduate from high school ready for college, work, and life;
  • A common understanding of systems policy recommendations and how they relate to the development of a coordinated dropout reduction framework;
  • A commitment to a long term strategy that is embedded in and coordinates the work of multiple systems that serve vulnerable youth; and
  • Multi-system, regional action teams.

The summit is one of more than 100 such events nationwide, all coordinated by America’s Promise Alliance. The Alliance, founded in 1997, consists of more than 400 organizations and groups. Its purpose is to raise awareness about five key supports needed by all students: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, an effective education and opportunities to help others.

Jobs for America’s Graduates
During the summit, it was announced that Washington has become the 30th state affiliate to join the national Jobs for America’s Graduates program.

JAG targets at-risk students by providing quality work experience so that they are employable after they complete their education. The JAG model consists of three programs: school-to-career for seniors, a multi-year program for all high school students and an out-of-school program for students who have dropped out and want to reenter school.

As its first year with JAG, Washington has selected 18 schools to participate: six high schools, four alternative schools and eight skill centers.

The three major goals of Washington JAG are for students to:

  • Stay in school and graduate, then pursue postsecondary education and/or secure employment;
  • Improve their academic performance, school behavior, attendance, participation and self-esteem; and
  • Improve their skills in leading and being an effective member of a team.

“JAG gives us another way to catch kids before they drop out,” Dorn said. “It has proven to be successful around the country, and I know it will be successful in Washington.”

Other dropout initiatives
Students have many different barriers that keep them from staying in school, such as money, home life, pregnancy and bullying. Dorn believes that multiple barriers require multiple strategies to keep students in school and to retrieve them when they drop out. “There is no single magic bullet that will solve our dropout problem,” he said.

Some of those strategies include:

School to School. This program will pair nine “lead schools” that have demonstrated success in closing the achievement gap with “partner schools” that need additional help. OSPI will collect the best practices involved in the program.

Navigation 101. One of the best ways to prevent drop outs is to provide them reasons to stay in school. Navigation 101 creates a student-focused education plan in middle school. By personalizing a student’s education, involving the student in his/her future and involving parents, Navigation 101 is proving to be an effective program in keeping students in school through graduation.

Building Bridges workgroup. Building Bridges brought together different agencies and programs into a coordinated and cohesive unit to help with dropout prevention, intervention and retrieval strategies. While funding for the program has been eliminated, a workgroup continues and was tasked by the Legislature to make recommendations that would support vulnerable students in their efforts to stay in school or to re-enter school if they drop out.

DSHS partnership. Recently, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction partnered with the Department of Social and Health Services to increase awareness of DSHS resources available to students in need, such as those in foster care or those who are homeless. They often do not know that their non-academic problems might have a solution, and that that would keep them in school.


About OSPI

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine Educational Service Districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.

Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

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   Updated 12/6/2010

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