All Texas Students Must be Accounted For
Holding On to Students Usually Requires Systemwide
Transformations Rather than Piecemeal Programs

“Since this problem is systemic, the solutions must
address schools as systems,” says IDRA president & CEO

San Antonio
(August 1, 2008) – The Texas Education Agency has announced it will release today at 1:00 p.m.  the 2008 accountability ratings for Texas
school districts and campuses and the annual dropout and completion report.

first commissioned IDRA to study dropout rates and the causes of student attrition in 1986. IDRA’s most recent study for the 2006-07 school year shows that Texas public schools are failing to graduate one out of every three students. Today,
Texas has a 34 percent rate of attrition – higher than the 33 percent rate that so alarmed Texans back in 1986. “If all students count – and they do – then all students must be counted,” states IDRA president & CEO, Dr. María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel.

Further, an equally critical issue is what schools are doing to hold on to students and ensure they graduate with an excellent education. School actions and programs must be based on research showing their effectiveness. For example, many campaigns aimed at recovering students who have dropped out soon fail because the students are brought back into the same system that disengaged and pushed them out in the first place. In taking action, we must adopt proven strategies to serve all children and get at the deeper causes of attrition.

“The bottom line is: schools are responsible for the education of children – for all children, be they Black, Brown, White, poor, rich, female, male, disabled, non-disabled, English-speaking or not,” said Dr. Robledo Montecel. “But according to last week’s court ruling, high schools and middle schools in Texas
are losing English language learners at twice the rate of other students.”

A school with a high dropout rate must make a concerted effort to reconfigure part or most of its structure and practices to ensure that it meets the following three goals:

  •  strengthen relationships among students, school staff and families; 
  •  improve teaching and learning in every classroom every day; and
  • if necessary, reallocate budget, staff and time to achieve goals one and two that lead to increased student achievement and graduation rates.

Quality public schools have strong “holding power,” meaning they hold on to and prepare all students for success. Examples of how they do this are:

  •  Keep students in school with a determined faculty that provides the support and opportunities for students to experience academic success.
  • Develop persistence and self efficacy in an environment that values all students’ strengths and assets.
  • Provide an authentic and engaging curriculum that prepares students for college and the workplace.
  • ·Provide students opportunities to experience support and engage themselves in academic and extracurricular activities sponsored by the school.
  • Involve parents in a collective effort to support students both in school and at home.

In addition, this reconfiguration must be embedded into any existing or proposed school reform effort. IDRA has developed a Quality Schools Action Framework to guide such efforts among schools and their communities. We also have developed a set of principles for policymakers and school leaders. IDRA’s online portal helps community and school partners examine their school data and plan joint action to improve school holding power.

Dr. Robledo Montecel added: “We need one kind of educational system: an excellent system. One where all students graduate from high school prepared for college or the world of work, no matter what the color of their skin, the language they speak, or where they happen to be born. The economics of undereducation demand it. Our children deserve no less.”

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Latest statewide and county level attrition study

Look up attrition rates your county

Quality Schools Action Framework

School Holding Power Policy Principles

Congressional testimony by Dr. Robledo Montecel

Ideas and Strategies for Action

School Holding Power portal (high school level information)

Classnotes Podcast: School Holding Power for Every Child

Graduation for All E-letter (English/Spanish)

See for related articles and studies.

Contact: Christie L. Goodman , APR, at IDRA, 210-444-1710;


IDRA is an independent, private non-profit organization, directed by María Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., dedicated to creating schools that work for all children. As a vanguard leadership development and research team for more than three decades, IDRA has worked with people to create self-renewing schools that value and empower all children, families and communities. IDRA conducts research and development activities, creates, implements and administers innovative education programs and provides teacher, administrator, and parent training and technical assistance.