Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Preschool: The Magic Dropout Prevention Technique?

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Latino students enter high school. Four years later, less than 60% of them graduate. Nationally, Latinos represent one of the highest dropout rates of any ethnic group; dropping out at a rate much more frequent than White or Asian students.

Today, the WaPo features Jay Matthews's reflection on dropout intervention strategies - and the effectiveness of each. The most "impactful" program appears to be a preschool program, where students spend 1.8 years in a preschool which has small classes and requires parental involvement. This program yielded 19 "extra" high school graduates for every 100 students who participated. Other programs relied on class size reduction, teacher salary increases, etc... but check them out for yourself.

What Matthew's rightly notes is that only one of the programs profiled can actually be instituted by high school educators - the rest are for K-8 schools.

Even so, it is interesting to me to see that the most effective program is a preschool program. This validates the correlation between Latinos' dropout rates and their lack of preschool education (Latino children in the US are the least likely to receive early childhood education). It also gives us some clues as to where we should focus our resources when trying to address the Latino dropout crisis.

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