School Attrition Rates and Title I School Accountability to Families –
Necessary Information

Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed.

IDRA published the first
Texas public school attrition study for the 1985-86 school year and has consistently published that information annually. The methodology has been constant and is now acknowledged nationally. It is common knowledge that
Texas schools are not holding on to and educating a large number of students.

Schools that serve low-income students are categorized as Title I schools because of the federal laws that apply to them. The No Child Left Behind Act requires that families whose children attend a Title I school be informed about the status of the education of their children.

In fact, the intention of Title I since the early 1960s when President Johnson signed the first legislation has been to keep families informed. The most public indicator of school performance has been the student scores on state-mandated exams (Texas Assessment of Knowledge Skills). Yet, if we really want to hold our schools accountable, we need to also look at school holding power. How are our schools managing to hold on to their students through high school graduation? Attrition rates like those released in this newsletter are a critical piece of information for the whole community. And
Texas schools are failing the school-holding-power course. In
Texas , we are losing two in five Latino students and one in three African American students.

Even as official reports still attempt to explain away absent students through
Texas ’ many “leaver codes” and attempt to classify the disappearing populations in innocuous or benign ways, the fact is: we are not educating large segments of the school-age population. And we will pay for it, clearly.

An even more complete and accurate picture of how a school is doing must have a framework that considers governance efficacy, appropriate resources, parent and family engagement, student engagement, teaching quality, and access to quality curriculum.

Parent Information and Resource Center activities with families have included presenting information online that speaks to these elements of IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework.

Parents and others in a school’s community need to know specific information about their students, like…

  • Are students prepared for post-secondary education?
  • Do students understand the many possibilities available for their professional future?
  • Do students have technological and Internet proficiency?
  • Is students’ development of skills and interests giving them insight into their unique gifts and talents?
  • Are students ready to work hard for those things that will prepare them for the world of work and their lives as citizens and community members?

Our children, at a very minimum, must complete a full high school course of study. Title I school requirements, both in letter and spirit, help to equip people to work together toward this goal. Schools must hold on to students through high school graduation, and all families must be kept informed on their progress.

Resources

Cárdenas, J.A., and M. Robledo Montecel, J. Supik.
Texas Dropout Survey Project (San Antonio, Texas: Intercultural Development Research Association, 1986).

Montemayor, A.M. “Student and Parent Math Conversations,” Classnotes podcast Episode 33 San Antonio, Texas: Intercultural Development Research Association, April 29, 2008).

Montemayor, A.M. “This We Know – All of Our Children are Learning,” IDRA Newsletter (San Antonio, Texas: Intercultural Development Research Association, May 2007).

Robledo Montecel, M. “A Quality Schools Action Framework: Framing Systems Change for Student Success,” IDRA Newsletter (San Antonio
,
Texas
: Intercultural Development Research Association, November-December 2005).

Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., is an IDRA senior education associate and director of the Texas IDRA Parent Information and Resource Center. He also serves on the national board of PTA and Parents for Public Schools. Comments and questions may be directed to him via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©2009, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the October 2009 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Every effort has been made to maintain the content in its original form. However, accompanying charts and graphs may not be provided here. To receive a copy of the original article by mail or fax, please fill out our information request and feedback form. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]

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