Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Increasing the Graduation Rate, Part 2

Dropout Prevention Programs

The is the second in a new series of articles on the the commissioned research study, Increasing the Graduation Rate. Dr. Donna O'Neal, the author of the final report, will discuss the report and break out the findings in upcoming Georgia Graduation Stories blog posts for educators, parents, community and state leaders who are invested in increasing Georgia's High School Graduation Rate.

Increasing the Graduation Rate, Part 2
A study commissioned by the Governor’s Office, the Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

The research identified more than 20 programs and interventions that are used in Georgia schools specifically to increase the graduation rate. Many of the Georgia experts interviewed indicate that the State level initiatives that they oversee are based on scientific research. However, school level experts had difficulty identifying a research base on which they implemented most of the local initiatives. Experts also indicate that little or no professional learning nor skill development for implementers is provided for many programs and interventions. Generally, continuous improvement efforts are missing statewide.

Many of the programs and interventions identified in this study are implemented in varying ways and in varying degrees across the State. According to the experts, there are many independent variables at work, and in many cases there is no fidelity of implementation. What is fidelity of implementation? Assuming that each intervention is based on scientific research, fidelity of implementation is the degree to which practitioners:

*Implement the intervention as prescribed by those who designed and evaluated the intervention,

*Avoid implementing factors that are not prescribed by those who designed and evaluated the intervention,

*Have and use the professional learning and skills prescribed as necessary by the designers to implement the intervention successfully.

For Phase II of this research, researchers should consider the research on which programs or interventions are based, look to the research for implementation criteria established for the program or intervention, and identify and quantify the criteria that would significantly impact the success of the intervention. Additionally, researchers should locate such programs and interventions in Georgia and test for fidelity of implementation. The researchers should collect and analyze data of program effectiveness and report the effectiveness of the program or intervention and the criteria necessary for effective implementation.

Additionally, the research has the following recommendations:

*Analyze the processes and rationale used to assign potential dropouts to interventions and programs

*Consider moving to a standards-based grading system

*Consider working with the U.S. Department of Education to use End-of-Course Tests rather than the Georgia High School Graduation Tests for national and State accountability systems

*Include research regarding school factors that impact the graduation rate in school improvement efforts

*Evaluate the Remedial Education Program and its funding

*Identify, analyze, and compare schools that graduate more than 85 percent of their students and those that graduate 60 percent or less

*Identify and analyze school systems that have dramatically increased their graduation rate

*Ensure that schools that have a high dropout rate receive intensive school improvement efforts

*Analyze State and local policies that impact the graduation rate

Incorporate the findings of this study in professional learning opportunities for Georgia educators

*Consider commissioning a report similar to The Silent Epidemic to put a personal face on the dropout issues and to bring a sense of urgency to Georgia’s dropout problem.

In Conclusion

With this, local and State decision makers should have the information needed to make informed decisions about how to best identify potential dropouts and how to design, implement, and/or evaluate programs and interventions which focus on keeping students in school.

Please add your comments and questions directly on the blog. Also, we would like to know how you are using data in your school or organization. Look for future articles by Dr. O’Neal on this topic. We hope you will become a regular visitor to the Georgia Graduation Stories blog site.

Georgia Public Broadcasting is pleased to welcome Dr. Donna O’Neal as our newest contributor to the Georgia Graduation Stories blog. Dr. O’Neal is the Director of The Next Generation School Project for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

No comments: