at-risk-studentRather than promote and practice dropout prevention, traditional U.S. high schools steer their low-performing students to charter schools or other alternative programs. Consequently, these programs become dumping grounds labeled ‘dropout factories’, according to a special investigation published by ProPublica.

Studies show that well-designed learning programs are proven to have more influence on student graduation rates than all social and family risk factors combined. But when schools must rely on high performers to reach funding goals, it seems many of them take the easy way out when it comes to students less likely to graduate.

Gaming the System

These moves, according to ProPublica, are an effort to game the accountability system and hide their dropouts. Essentially, it allows high schools to get low-performing students off their books, thereby looking healthier in state ratings.

One of the longstanding criticisms of the No Child Left Behind Act is that schools attempt to minimize their dropout numbers. The pressure to look good in accountability reports encourages the falsification of data.

ProPublica’s report raises that issue that “since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 refashioned the yardstick for judging schools, alternative education has taken on another role: A silent release valve for high schools … that are straining under the pressure of accountability reform.”

Redesigning Learning Environments for Better Dropout Prevention

Instead of sending students to another school where they’re just as likely to drop out, schools can implement dropout prevention tactics. CuroGens Learning believes all schools should empower teachers to redesign learning programs that promote confidence and success in their at-risk students. By cultivating a growth mindset and utilizing advanced learning methodologies, students will no longer place limits on their own potential.

Read the entire investigation article on the Education Week blog, and ProPublica’s full report on how schools hide their dropout numbers online.