Dear reader,

In the United States today, one in three students who enters high school does not graduate on time with a diploma. Several studies, including IDRA research, that have looked at why students drop out find that students say that they are not connected to school. Findings like these need to be unpacked carefully. And we need a response that is crafted with equal care, from a solid base of experience and best practices.

Engagement is integral – not a sideline – to learning. And, most importantly, broad-scale student disengagement points to the need for systems-level changes that have us ensure that students of all backgrounds encounter a curriculum that is challenging and relevant, teaching that engages them and supports them to succeed in learning, and the sense that they are valued in school. In "Engaging Ourselves to Engage Our Students," Ms. Josie Cortez, points the way to taking on this issue constructively in our classrooms and school systems. With "Remembering Women’s History Month," Dr. Bradley Scott, reminds us that we must use every opportunity – including special observances – to take stock of how well we are serving girls and indeed, all other students.

With this issue, we also introduce you to the student winners of IDRA’s Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program national essay contest. As a dropout prevention model, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program strengthens student connections and success in school in ways that yield powerful results: 98 percent of all Valued Youth tutors stay in school. One tutor, Crisol Ortuño wrote in her award-winning essay: "I remember seeing my tutees’ flashing white smiles as I entered their classroom. Who would have thought that I, the always quiet and shy girl, could have changed their minds about learning in school?" My heartfelt congratulations to all the tutors, their teachers and families – and a heartfelt wish that as adults we do all we must to make sure that every student is engaged, valued and on a path to success.

Dr. María Robledo Montecel

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[©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.]