High School Dropouts: Can We Identify and Help Them in Middle School?

A method used to predict if a student will drop out of high school is examined in this Frontline video.

What if we could identify the students who are most likely to become high school dropouts?

In Middle School Moment, Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Robert Balfanz shares the key indicators that he believes can predict if middle school kids are going to dropout of high school.

The existence of any of these three factors in high poverty middle schools indicate a student has a 75 percent chance of becoming a high school dropout:

1. Less than 80 percent attendance

2. Earning a failing grade in Math or English.

3. Receiving an unsatisfactory behavior grade.

As he discusses in the video, Balfanz has teamed up with New York Middle School 244 principal Dolores Peterson to put his research into practice and to help at-risk kids from dropping out. The school hired more aides, an additional counselor, and changed staff responsibilities to better identify and help students developing risk factors.

Statistics are collected and reviewed weekly by the administration. They meet with students to find out what’s going on in their lives and attempt to discover the reasons they are struggling.

The video is a little long at 13 minutes, but check it out. It's worth it.

What do you think indicates whether a student will drop out of school or not? Let us know in the comments.

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Andrew Freeman is a California native with a degree in history from UCLA. He’s covered a wide range of topics for TakePart, but is particularly interested in politics and policy.  Email Andrew |@natureofdabeast | TakePart.com