To Stem Dropouts, Urban Districts Switch Strategies

To Stem Dropouts, Urban Districts Switch Strategies -...

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Published: August 11, 2004 The New York Times To Stem Dropouts, Urban Districts Switch Strategies By John Gehring An increasing number of urban districts are scrapping traditional high school grade structures, changing their retention policies, and devising more flexible routes toward graduation to address high dropout rates. Educators in Baltimore, Boston, Houston, and Rochester, N.Y., say they are particularly focused on the 9th grade, a year when many students drop out or fall behind by failing to accumulate the credits necessary for promotion. The energy around rethinking and reshaping high school policies is being driven by a bevy of studies, and ample firsthand experience, showing that traditional ways of doing business are failing. A report released this past spring by the National High School Alliance, a Washington- based network of organizations that work to improve high school achievement, found that the graduation rate for urban districts hovers around 50 percent. In Boston, Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant has proposed overhauling the 9th through 12th grades in the 60,000-student district, which has a growing pool of "overage" freshmen, who often drop out. Currently, high school freshmen are required to repeat the entire year if they fail English or mathematics, even if they have passed other courses. Last year, Boston had about 400 overage freshmen, out of 5,700 9th graders. Mr. Payzant wants to give students more time to work at their own pace. A new graduation policy, which he proposed June 9, would end the strict retention of students who fail some classes. The superintendent also is calling for more "pathways" through high school that would allow students to graduate in three, four, or five years. The Boston school committee, which supports the change, is expected to take up the proposal next month. In Baltimore, where almost 40 percent of 9th graders drop out, the school board voted this spring to reduce the number of credits freshmen must have before being promoted to the next grade. Under the new policy, students must accumulate four credits—in the core subjects of English,
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This test prep was uploaded on 04/04/2008 for the course PS 123 taught by Professor Lane during the Fall '07 term at Saginaw Valley.

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To Stem Dropouts, Urban Districts Switch Strategies -...

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