Middle School Dropout Prevention:
Crucial Course Correction
it's too late to focus dropout prevention efforts on high-school students. But
grade school seems a bit early. Is there a lot being done to zero in on
guidance and counseling for at-risk middle-schoolers, and forget the younger
and older kids?
No one in
education would ever say "forget" any student at any stage of development. But
you're right: dropout prevention should peak in the middle-school years, since
that is when student dreams are best connected to the practical form of making
them come true.
nation's grade schools and middle schools have apparently been doing a poor job
of preparing youngsters for how to make their dreams come true. Apparently,
their self-esteem has been bolstered considerably, for they have high
aspirations for going to college. But as a practical matter, their knowledge of
how to get there - how to build a high-school career most likely to put them in
position to make it in college - is very poor.
to a survey of 1,814 youth in seventh and eighth grades, conducted for the
National Association of Secondary School Principals and the education honorary
Phi Delta Kappa International, 93% of the middle school youth claimed that
there is "no way" they would be dropping out of high school. That flies in face
of the facts - that half a million youth drop out of high school every year.
students claimed that they were going to go on to college, when again, reality
shows that far fewer of them actually go.
importance, 83% of those surveyed said that they had little or no idea of what
high school classes they should choose in order to put themselves in the best
position to succeed in college.
show that the middle-school kids have unrealistic expectations and are fuzzy
about how to go about fulfilling their goals.
recipe for disaster - the probable cause of so many underachieving youth who
drop out of high school.
recipe should come the ingredients of better college and career guidance in
middle school, better high-school course selection planning, better
mentoring . . . and a whole lot more serious communication between adults and
middle-school youth about what school is for and why they are there.
a look at the poll that showed the disconnect between student aspirations for
higher-learning, and how informed they are about the preparations necessary for
college, see the survey results from the National Association of Secondary School
Principals and Phi Delta Kappa International: