• by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed. • IDRA Newsletter • September 2008 •
IDRA published the first Texas public school attrition study for the 1985-86 school year. Every year since then, we have published the attrition rates for the whole state. It took quite a while for our findings to be accepted broadly, but now it is common knowledge that schools are losing many, many students and that schools are not holding on to and educating a large number of students.
Today, the state and our schools are being held much more accountable under the No Child Left Behind Act. Yet a more comprehensive 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. Even as official reports still fudge on numbers because of the many leaver codes and attempts to classify the disappearing populations in ways that do not seem as indicting, the fact is: we are not educating large segments of the school-age population. And we will pay for it, clearly.
Title I requires that schools give parents a report card on how they are doing in educating students. If in Texas we are losing almost one in two Latino students and almost one in three African American students, the grade is 50 on a 100-point scale for Latino students and a 66 for African American students. If 70 is considered passing, we are failing. IDRA calls for a response at the systems level that strengthens school holding power, since schools are the locus and focus of responsibility.
The most common interpretation of accountability, and the leading and most public indicator, has been the student scores on state-required exams (which are currently high-stakes exams). Yet, if we really want to hold our schools accountable, we need to also look at a school holding power index. What is the score on how our schools are managing to hold on to their students through high school graduation?
It is obviously equally important that we have much more information. We need to know more information about our students, like…
Are they prepared for post-secondary education?
Do they understand the many possibilities available for their professional future?
Do they have technological and Internet proficiency?
Is their development of skills and interests giving them insight into their unique gifts and talents?
Are they ready to work hard for those things that will prepare them for the world of work and their lives as citizens and community members?
Parent Information and Resource Center activities with families have included presenting information online that speaks to the elements of IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework:
Parent and Community Engagement
Curriculum Quality and Access
In one example, through the IDRA Newsletter and our Classnotes podcast, we have shared how one group of high school parents surveyed parents and students about math instruction and student achievement at their school.
Our children, at a very minimum, must complete a full high school course of study. Title I school requirements, both letter and spirit, are important. Schools must hold on to students through high school graduation.
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: April 29, 2008).
Montemayor, A.M. “Latino Parent Engagement in High School Math,” Classnotes podcast (Episode 31: April 3, 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. Comments and questions may be directed via e-mail at email@example.com.
[©2008, IDRA. The following article originally appeared in the September 2008 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.]