The IDRA Newsletter is published 10 times a year. Each edition focuses on issues in education, striving to provide many different perspectives on the topics covered and to define its significance in the state and national dialogue. The IDRA Newsletter can only be mailed to U.S.addresses, but pdf and web copies are available online.

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October 2014 Issue ~ Articles


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October 2014

Focus ~ School Holding Power 

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Newsletter Executive Editor
María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, Ph.D.

ISSN 1069-5672

Texas Public School Attrition Study, 2013-14
School Holding Power is Improving in Texas – At a Glacial Pace

One out of every four students (24 percent) from the freshman class of 2010-11 left school prior to graduating with a high school diploma – meaning, Texas public schools still are failing to graduate one out of every four students. IDRA’s annual attrition study released this month builds on a series of studies that track the number and percent of students in Texas who are lost from public school enrollment prior to graduation. In this article, Roy L. Johnson, M.S., gives highlights from the study and links to the study itself along with related resources.

Read IDRA’s Texas Public School Attrition Study, 2013-14 (pdf)

Infographic: Texas High School Attrition
See IDRA’s new graphic showing how Texas public schools are losing one out of four students. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Families and School Holding Power – Parent-Led Surveys Present Insights
As IDRA publishes its 29th Texas Public School Attrition Study (see story above), Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., describes how communities can make sense of the figures through further investigation. Families can use the data to further explore the why’s and wherefores’ of the issue. Schools need to know what families think and more importantly how families and schools can partner to meet the challenge.

See sample survey for parents about their children’s mathematics learning

See sample survey for students about mathematics learning

Communities Using Data – See video interview of Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., about communities using data. He tells the story of a group of low-income Spanish-speaking families and their high school children used data and surveys to collaborate with their school to improve math instruction. [06:02 min]

Barriers Hispanic Students Face Graduating from High School
There is a substantial body of research that details the barriers Hispanic students have to overcome, almost all pointing to disadvantages – economic, English learners, poorly prepared, perceived dissonant cultural values – the list goes on and on. And there is no question that barriers exist. But the barriers have nothing to do with a student’s ethnicity or their family’s economic level or which language they first spoke. Josie Danini Cortez, M.A., explains that barriers exist because of pervasive inequities in educational systems – inequities that manifest themselves in school funding, teacher preparation, lack of access to quality bilingual education programs, college-ready curriculum and instruction, and a myriad of other indicators as delineated in IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework.

Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program Winning Essay
IDRA sponsored a national essay competition among participants in the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, a nationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program of IDRA. Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutors wrote about how the program helps them do better in school and how they help their tutees to do better. Six students received prizes. Here is one of the winning essays. Others are available online.

Effective Dropout Prevention – Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – IDRA’s Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is a research-based, internationally-recognized dropout prevention program that has kept 98 percent of its tutors in school. Learn more about the program and how to bring this program to your school. 


IDRA Research for School Holding Power
As we continue yet another year of working to assure equal educational opportunities for every child, it is the “Research” in our name that we are purposefully and with profound intent spotlighting in the IDRA Newsletter. And we are doing so by increasing visibility and awareness of IDRA’s research and the impact it has had for children. Each newsletter this year will feature our research contributions to particular topic. This month, the spotlight is on IDRA’s research for actionable knowledge.

October 2014 Issue ~ Newsletter Plus  

Classnotes podcasts on School Holding Power

Building Parent Voice for Action – Episode 146

Counting Dropouts – Episode 62

The Power of Student Voices in Dropout Prevention – Episode 125

College for All – Episode 75

Continuities with Lessons in Dropout Prevention – Episode 63

Tracking vs. High Quality Education for All Students – Episode 124

Infographic: One district cut its dropout rates in half.
Texas is improving attrition rates by 1-2 percent each year, and gaps have not gotten better in almost three decades. But one school district cut its dropout rates in half. Others can too. (shareable web graphic, png)

College Bound and Determined – School District Proves that a School District Can Assure that All Students are College Bound
IDRA’s report, College Bound and Determined, shows how the Pharr-San Juan Alamo school district in south Texas transformed itself from low achievement and low expectations to planning for all students to graduate from high school and college. In PSJA, transformation went beyond changing sobering graduation rates or even getting graduates into college. This school district is changing how we think about college readiness. 

School Holding Power Checklist
IDRA has developed a one-page School Holding Power Checklist with a set of criteria for assessing and selecting effective dropout prevention strategies and for making sure your school is a quality school.


Look Up Your Texas County for Attrition and Dropout Data
IDRA is providing dropout trend data at your fingertips. See a graph of high school attrition in your Texas county over the last 10 years. You’ll also see the numbers of students by race-ethnicity who have been lost from enrollment in your county.

See which Texas counties had high school attrition rates go up or down
The Texas high school attrition rate has continued its downward trend. IDRA’s latest annual attrition study released today shows that schools in 102 counties saw improvement, attrition rates in 105 counties students have worsened since last year.

Free eBook on Types of Dropout Data
When IDRA first examined the dropout issue in Texas, there was no dropout data or standard method for counting dropouts. Over time, researchers have developed several methodologies in order to see the problem from different angles. We know that it’s easier to ignore a problem and discount students when they aren’t counted in the first place, which is why IDRA has kept the dropout issue at the forefront with its annual studies, related reports and congressional testimony. Though each method described in this eBook has different meaning and calculation methods, each provides unique information that is important for assessing schools’ quality of education and school holding power.

Classnotes podcasts on the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program

Tutor’s Success Surprises Elementary Teacher – IDRA Classnotes Podcast Episode 145

An Elementary Teacher on Having Tutors in Her Classroo – IDRA Classnotes Podcast Episode 142

The Art of Writing – Tips for Teachers Part 1 – IDRA Classnotes Podcast Episode 136

The Art of Writing – Tips for Teachers Part 2 – IDRA Classnotes Podcast Episode 137

They start calling my name (on being a Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutor) – IDRA Classnotes Podcast Episode 135

Award-winning dropout prevention
IDRA’s Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is a research-based, internationally-recognized dropout prevention program that has kept 98 percent of its tutors in school. Learn more about the program and how to bring this program to your school.

Dropout Prevention that Works – Quick overview of how the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program impacts students and schools. IDRA’s Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is a research-based, internationally-recognized dropout prevention program that has kept 98 percent of its tutors in school. See this quick video and learn more about the program and how to bring ths program to your school. [01:30 min]

IDRA OurSchool portal – designed to help you – educators and community members – find out how well your high school campus is preparing and graduating students, what factors may be weakening school holding power, and what you can do together to address them. 



IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework™

Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework
At a time when public education makes a world of difference to our students, communities and economic success, many are looking for strategies that will work for them and that will last. Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework shows how communities and schools can work together to strengthen their capacity to be successful with all of their students.