For some students, the motivation to stay in school is present, but challenges outside of academics can get in the way. Bullying, financial issues, dangerous home environments, language barriers, and any number of other societal problems are common factors affecting the dropout rate, especially in major metropolitan schools. When students are faced with these types of challenges, connecting them to a mentor or adult role model can often provide the support they need to stay in school. But the biggest question is, “How do I find the students that do not have a support system?”
MONITOR KEY DROPOUT INDICATORS
Setting up an early warning system in your school database will not only help you find the students in danger of dropping out, but will give you enough time to intervene and get them back on track. Monitoring key factors, such as individual course completion rates, course grades, and attendance records, especially during the first month of high school, can help you identify students that may be struggling.
Naviance reports offer an easy and automatic way to monitor key dropout indicators and are integrated directly with your school information system (SIS). Data can be synced with your SIS and Naviance every night, which can flow into customized reports that will highlight information about your students, like course grades and completion, GPA, standardized test scores, course planning rigor, individualized learning plan status, and custom task completion. You can even track how often your students and their parents are logging in to Family Connection. These reports can be automated and scheduled to be sent via e-mail to yourself or other key stakeholders at your school.
Once you set up your reports to find the students that are in danger of dropping out, set up a mentorship program that can help with individual student needs, either internally or externally through local nonprofit groups. You could also survey your students to find out if they are struggling with staying engaged in school or if they would like to be paired up with an adult role model.
ENCOURAGE PARENT ENGAGEMENT
For the students that are not in extreme danger of dropping out, encouraging parents to become more involved with their children’s education will also help them stay more engaged in class. Frequent communication with parents is a key factor affecting student success, but printing out materials to send home is costly and time consuming. Plus, many communications get lost in school bags, lockers, or mailboxes before they even reach the parents’ hands.
A better way to communicate with parents is through e-mail. Parents will be able to read it on their own time, on their mobile phones, or at work, when they have a moment to spare. You can also link to relevant materials, like forms to sign and send back, or FAQs, timelines, and other reference materials. Naviance makes this process easy by including an e-mail tool right inside the platform. You can even segment your e-mail by grade level, assigned counselor, GPA range, recent Family Connection activity, or custom groups that you have in your school (e.g. students in the AVID program.) You can also upload documents to the document library in Family Connection to make it easy for parents to learn about what their children are doing in school.
Everyone needs a role model in their life. For those students that do not have access to a coach, teacher, religious figure, or family member for support, staying engaged in school can be difficult. But once you determine which students do not have a support system, connecting them with an adult mentor is straightforward. For students, having a school official show personal and individual attention to them may be the difference between dropping out and graduation.