Robert Balfanz from the Everyone Graduates Center and Talent Development Middle Grades Program at Johns Hopkins University and the National Middle School Association (now the Association for Middle Level Education) published a policy and practice brief entitled Putting Middle Grades Students on the Graduation Path. You can download the entire document at http://www.amle.org/portals/0/pdf/research/Research_from_the_Field/ Policy_Brief_Balfanz.pdf
Frontline recently did a segment on a school in the Bronx that has implemented the practices outlined in the Balfanz document. The video can be watched at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/education/dropout-nation/middle-school-moment//
The video focuses on the importance of adult advocates and an intervention plan for every child that exhibits the early warning signs of dropping out of high school:
- Poor attendance
- Failure in either 6th grade math or language arts
- Low grades in classroom behavior
There is also a discussion guide available on the website.
Although the video is about an inner city middle school, its ideas are certainly applicable to rural states like Maine that have their fair share of students living in difficult situations. I can see this video being used in faculty, parent & community, and school board meetings–anywhere we want to help folks understand the importance of funding advocacy, guidance, and wellness programs. And more importantly…to build a will to act in ways that help these kids see that they have choices and that there are adults who believe in them,