Preventing Dropouts! Can RE@L Technology Help?

RE@L Logo 60pxU.S. graduation rates reached a historic high of over 80 percent in 2012—an increase of about 8 percent over the past decade, says “America’s Promise Alliance.” In a recent report from the Center for Promise (click here)  you’ll find some interesting statistics. Here’s a quote from their report:

DroputPrevention We’ve made improvements, but we’re still left with about 20 percent of young people who are on a course to failure.” Simply put, that’s intolerable. With every dropout, we all suffer.

AmericasPromiseThe reports go on to say the causes are:

•   Toxic environments. Many students who leave school are navigating a negative environment at home or in the community. For example, they have personal and family health issues or are the victims of violence at home.

•   Relationships with others. If a student does not have a connection with a teacher, guidance counselor, coach or parent, they may find a sense of belonging in gang membership or with other peers who are making bad decisions.

•   Lack of support. Young people who leave school are resilient, but need help re-engaging with their education. “The salience of school isn’t there because of what’s happening outside the school building, and they aren’t finding the supports they need within school,” Zaff says. Adults who take an interest in the student’s success are key to getting the student to return to school

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To help solve the problem the report says administrators and schools should:

  •    •   Create a system to identify and track at-risk students through the years.
  •    •   Work with community organizations to build a referral system for students who need outside services.
  •    •   Place at-risk students in leadership roles where they can design solutions that will help them and their peers.

Here’s our point of view: When, almost 200 years ago, Horace Mann invented what we now know as the Schoolhouse, many kids dropped out temporarily, especially when they were needed to help with the harvest. Later, even more dropped out for good when they needed to enter the workplace as the young adults they had become. Statistics alone don’t change anything, but knowledgable reformers can help, so we want to add a dose of our own RE@L learning spices to keep more kids in schools. Many of these disengaged kids just don’t see the relevance of schools and an education. Truth told, often they are right. But they do understand today’s tech tools and many know how to use them. So, why not provide them with more hands-on and heads-on learning? RE@L STEM icon_RGB Project-based learning is one such tool and RE@L’s STEM products engage learners of all levels. With RE@L’s Water Quality package, they can collaborate, explore, research and report their results, just like the real world. Even more, kids get a chance to explore their career options. It’s hard for students to be motivated when they don’t have some future goals in mind. Not just careers, but preparing for them with schooling options like training programs and internships. Career exploration is the key! Sure worth trying, isn’t it?   MobileWorld1

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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.

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