According to the March 3, 2006 article “Dropout rates high, but fixes under way,” high school students are dropping out primarily because….. can you guess? They are bored.
Most students don’t drop out because they can’t do the work. Nearly 90 percent had passing grades when they left school, according to the survey of dropouts by Civic Enterprises. Their major reason for opting out? The classes were too boring.
Is NCLB helping this situation? I really doubt it. What we need are passionate, committed educators teaching students and challenging them to grow beyond their own expectations– not mandates for testing or a national curriculum. High quality teachers make the difference. Relationships make the difference.
Dr. [Daniel] Losen wants to see a major emphasis on getting better teachers into schools, and also cites research that a personalization of high school – helping kids feel engaged and part of a community – can be a big factor in keeping them in school.
I am with Dr. Losen on this– we have GOT to relinquish our traditional focus on learning in a factory model and embrace a more authentically learner-centered approach. The naysayers will say, “that’s too expensive.” “That’s hard.”
And they are probably correct. It IS expensive to pay for high quality teachers, especially to permit them to have small class sizes. It IS much more challenging and difficult to engage in authentic, messy assessment, rather than shoving endless worksheets and bubblesheet scantrons in front of students. But authentic learning and ongoing assessments STUDENTS CANNOT FAKE (because they require real thinking and learning) is precisely the type of educational work in which we need to be engaged.
Vouchers and high stakes accountability are not the answer to this puzzle, unfortunately, but in this same article misled educational scholars are advocating precisely that solution:
Professor [Jay] Greene believes the only way to significantly lower the dropout rate is to raise academic skills – whether through accountability or school-choice programs.
No, Professor Greene, we don’t need more testing or vouchers. We do need to empower teachers to teach from their heart, with passion, and engage students so they feel challenged with the complex problems and issues of the day. We need more teachers like Barbara Dorff teaching our students, who “grab students by their hearts” when they engage them through the arts in their content area studies.
Rather than thinking about stricter accountability measures for mandatory schooling, why don’t we consider the radical proposal offered by Dr. David Jonassen when I heard him speak about problem solving in educational contexts a couple of weeks ago? Let’s make K-12 schooling optional. Would that result in social chaos? I doubt it. I also doubt that government leaders would be willing to take so radical an approach. But I think it would certainly create a positive pressure in schools to actually engage and motivate students with worthwhile educational pursuits, rather than ideologically flogging them with worksheets, never ending test prep, and didactic/teacher/content-centered instruction which bores rather than stimulates, and promotes higher dropout rates rather than reducing them.
The secret to addressing the drop out rate won’t be found in technology, a new curriculum guide, school vouchers, or even charter schools. The educational reform proposal de jure won’t do it. What we need are high quality, passionate teachers loving kids and empowered to engage them in a magical journey of learning and working hard together. That’s it. Technology can be employed effectively toward that end, but such use is far too rare today, I fear.
Kids want to be engaged in school. They want to be involved in work that matters. They want to be taught by teachers who love them, and recognize them for the unique human beings they are. They want to be challenged and stretched. And they want to have fun. It’s up to us, the educators in the field, to make this dream a reality every day in the small part of the world where we live and work. We can’t hold back and wait for some political reform or national change movement. The time is now, the students are here.
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On this day..
- Podcast422: Snow Day Podcast - Student iPad Projects, Forum with Joy Hofmeister & Makerspace Dreams - 2015
- EduBrawl! Pros Debate Mobile, Flipped and Games - 2013
- Podcast389: Improving Literacy with Media in Higher Education - 2012
- iPad: A Tool for Differentiation (in a primary classroom) #mace11 #edapp - 2011
- The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers (a book club discussion) - 2010
- Two Flowers Unblocks Ning - 2010
- Web 2.0 Projects by Laura Sadler #mace2010 - 2010
- Cell Phones R 4 More Than Texting: Let's plan for them, not ban them! - 2010
- Free Resources from Discovery Education #mace2010 - 2010
- Janet Wozniak: Think back to the reason you got into education: To change the world - 2010