Lifelong Learning Programme

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Title of Product
Weigh-in: What’s your approach to dropout prevention?
Name of Author(s)
Lucinda Blumenfeld
Date of Production
February 2009
Language of the review
Language of the product
Type of product
Online Publication
Thematic Area
Identification of students’ at risk
Target Group
Headmasters, Teachers
Website of the Product
Description of Contents
There are many articles that discuss the dropout problem, especially in the USA.
The Lucilla Blumenfeld ‘s article, published on, identifies a number of cases of neglect and consequent strategies to be implemented for its prevention.
The first problem faced is the failure to return to school after the summer and also students in their first years of school. She has put in place a door to door strategy type, in which
teachers, staff, community members and elected officials knock on the door of dropouts. In this way, the volunteers have gained a new understanding of the real-world complexities that cause kids to drop out.
The second problem is that the students drop out because they can’t read and so they are unable to keep up with the high school curriculum, are embarrassed by their failings. In this case, the RTI (Response to intervention) becomes essential: the model gives a way to intervene to ensure that all students are able to read at the appropriate grade level.
Research also indicates that a student's clear vision of the future is critical to his or her success in school. So the school operators must do everything they can to build confidence and to develop a sense of efficacy based on real accomplishment, supported by the BPIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) that provides a framework for schoolwide cultural changes that offer support for all students.
Students need also to find an adult in school who cares, so that the human connection allows him/her to get involved in the school community. Students want to feel a sense of belonging and if the school fails to provide that, the student will seek that human connection elsewhere.
Another strategy is to put teachers and students on the same side of learning, so that their positive relationships will help them make the most of good instruction, curriculum and assessment. The meetings between teachers of different levels of instruction increase the staff’s awareness of the practices that have worked in the previous schools.
Most kids drop out at the age of 15, maybe they have to work, or they are dealing with early pregnancy, gang violence or substance abuse. The Dropout Prevention and Recovery unit works with students most at risk. They assign a Diploma Project Advisor to students identified as highly at risk of dropping out. These advisors assess the students to determine why they are not having success in school and provide them with resources, such as help finding appropriate employment or arranging for substance abuse counseling or child care.
The article is structured in a clear, putting in a logical sequence content of great interest. Although the article refers to the U.S. experience, however, is interesting in that we compare the strategies adopted in the U.S. with what is done in our experience. Refers both to the educational aspect than to learning.

Even in the U.S. Risk factors for dropping out are identified in the lack of understanding of the language, in belonging to violent gangs, in the abuse of drugs, in early pregnancy or the need to work. What separates the American experience from the Italian one, however, is the approach that leads to a door-to-door strategy, in order to identify the social and economic complexities that lead to abandonment. Are activated Dropout Prevention and Recovery units that work with students at risk by giving them a Diploma Project Advisor to help them understand the reasons for school failure and shall also provide support materials (such as a job or a baby-sitter).

The hypothesis of the creation of advisors in support of at-risk students to help them earn a diploma is still an intervention that could be taken into account in our reality.
An intervention of this type of course requires availability of public funds that are not always available.

20 December 2014

Final Partners’ meeting

The fourth partners’ meeting took place in Florence (IT) on 15 December 2014. The meeting had the objective to check the activities carried out since the third meeting of the project and share and assess the in progress results. A special focus has been dedicated to the presentation of the strategies to solve the case scenarios.