Dear reader,

This month IDRA releases its 24th annual comprehensive study of attrition rates in the state of Texas. The results, while offering a glimmer of hope that the state is moving in the right direction, leave no doubt that we must take immediate, comprehensive action.

After all, while attrition rates have dropped from 33 percent in 1985-86 to 31 percent today (2008-09), this still means that 125,508 Texas freshman – youth who began ninth grade in 2005-06 – did not graduate with a diploma in their senior year. At this rate, Texas will not reach an attrition rate of zero until 2042, and we will lose a 2.3 million to 6 million more students.

All told, over the past two dozen years, 2.8 million students have been lost from school enrollment. In this economy, and in a world in which education makes a world of difference, we simply cannot afford to leave our young people with so few options.

In this October issue of the IDRA Newsletter, we provide you with the complete findings of the 2008-09 study. In "School Holding Power – A Quality Schools Indicator," Mr. Roy Johnson offers both an overview of cumulative findings from more than two decades of IDRA research and a discussion of key indicators for strengthening school holding power. "Overall Attrition Rate Declines, But Gaps Persist Among Racial and Ethnic Groups," also by Mr. Johnson, delves into this year’s findings in detail, describing the cohort methodology that IDRA has used since its inaugural study, sharing our latest attrition data for every county in the state, and providing longitudinal rates by race/ethnic group and gender.

Holding power re-emerges as a central theme in the article by Dr. Felix Montes entitled "25 Years of Effective Dropout Prevention." In this piece, Dr. Montes describes the five key reasons IDRA’s Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has succeeded over many years and across several countries. This year, the program marks the 25th anniversary of the program. We hope you will visit us online to learn more about how and why it works and join us in making the most of this milestone on behalf of youth.

At heart, the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program and, I believe, any successful school transformation, hinges on valuing and engaging all students, without exception. For this reason, while we hope some day to work ourselves out of a job, until schools have the capacity to graduate and prepare all students for college or career, you can count us to bring you the news (good or bad) and the research and resources to take action.

As Ms. Mary A. Vidaurri, a seventh grade valued youth tutor at Memorial Middle School, writes, "Passion for what you do is fundamental in every career path and organization." Today, we must summon that kind of passion and courage to make sure all children succeed and thrive.

María Robledo Montecel

Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via e-mail at

[©2009, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the 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.]