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ERIC Number: ED515665
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jan
Pages: 40
Abstractor: ERIC
This School Works for Me: Creating Choices to Boost Achievement. An Implementation Guide for School District Administrators
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
This document is part of a series of guides designed to help school district leaders address one of the toughest challenges in American education: dropout rates of 30 percent nationwide, 50 percent in many big cities, and 60 percent or more in the lowest-performing schools. This second guide in the series offers a detailed examination of the six key questions that districts are addressing: (1) How are your students progressing--and which are struggling? (2) What kind of school choices do you provide to meet diverse student needs--and how well are those schools and programs performing? (3) How will you manage a change process, inviting multiple stakeholders inside and outside the system to make the kinds of changes that the data suggest are needed? (4) How can you strengthen your portfolio of options? (5) How will you provide support to schools? and (6) What policy changes are needed? Leaders in some large urban districts have taken the lead in trying to solve the dropout crisis. They are tracking students through high school, monitoring their progress in earning credits, and investing in strategies that are having some success. They are offering different options for students who take a day job to support their families, students who have given up on schools with bell schedules, and students who are older than most of the others in their classrooms. New small schools in New York, Boston, and Chicago and Achievement Academies in Chicago have increased graduation rates. Targeted recuperative programs in New York and Chicago have had greater success with students who were off track to graduate than large comprehensive schools. Every district addressed in these guides has been able to identify "beat-the-odds" schools that are outperforming their peers. These districts have learned that: (1) many students who drop out fall off track in 9th grade, often earlier; (2) about 25 percent of students who eventually drop out start 9th grade on track for a diploma but then lose ground, dispelling the common assumption that they arrive from middle school already far behind; (3) a few key indicators are very good predictors of who will not graduate; (4) credit accumulation is a better predictor of dropouts than other factors that are often believed to be predictive, such as ethnicity and special education; and (5) school and program options other than the comprehensive high school, with a different structure and culture, can significantly improve graduation rates. This guide describes how to apply what these districts have learned. [For the related reports, see "This School Works for Me: Creating Choices to Boost Achievement. A Guide for Data Analysts" (ED515666); "Supplement to This School Works for Me: Creating Choices to Boost Achievement. A Guide for Data Analysts" (ED515667); and "This School Works for Me: Creating Choices to Boost Achievement. A Guide for America's School Leaders" (ED515670).]
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. P.O. Box 23350, Seattle, WA 98102. Tel: 206-709-3100; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Guides - Non-Classroom; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Administrators
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation