• by Abelardo Villarreal, Ph.D. • IDRA Newsletter • October 2006 • Dr. Abelardo Villarreal

Students who are most at risk of dropping out go through a gradual process of disengagement, isolationism and indifference that leads to a loss of self efficacy, self esteem and resiliency; history of academic underachievement; dysfunctional behaviors; and eventual physical exiting from the school environment.

We are living in an extraordinary time of diversity and change in the midst of educational inequities. This context offers unique opportunities to value diversity and co-create reality that pushes our educational systems, families and communities to act in partnership to eliminate inequities.

A school with a high student dropout rate or a high attrition 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 (3) if necessary,
  • reallocate budget, staff and time to achieve goals one and two that lead to increased student achievement and graduation rates. In addition, this reconfiguration must be embedded into any existing or proposed school reform effort.

Quality Program Characteristics

  • 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.

If you are interested in organizing a Graduation Guaranteed/Graduación Garantizada convening in your area or in setting up a local community-school action team, contact IDRA. Learn more about the Graduation Guaranteed initiative at: Dropout Prevention School Holding Power

Comments and questions may be directed to him via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©2006, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the October 2006 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. 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.]