Sunday, October 03, 2010

How Are We Going to Keep These Kids in School?

James started high school this fall. Will he graduate or dropout? Unless we find an effective way to intervene, the odds are, he’ll drift away from school missing increasingly more days, falling further behind until passing his courses seems impossible, so he quits. 

How do we know? Easy. James missed more than 25 days of school last year and that fact is a good predictor that he’ll drop out. James is one of 350 entering freshmen at Port Richmond High School who missed between 25 and 75 days of school last year who are at risk for dropping out. But, NYCID will intervene.  
In August, NYCID invited these kids and their parents to a Parent Orientation Dinner to learn about “Graduate, Prepare and Succeed,” an Attendance Improvement Dropout Prevention (A.I.D.P.) program funded by United Way.
Why were these young kids absent so frequently? Every story is different. Some find school boring. Some get in trouble a lot so it’s easier to stay away. Some skip to avoid teasing or bullying. Some have already fallen behind academically. But, without help it’s likely that all of them will have a tough transition to high school and many will drop out. 

Just like a high tech GPS system, Graduate, Prepare, and Succeed (GPS) will guide the way to high school graduation. About 90 students have now enrolled in the program designed to help them transition to high school, improve their attendance, and open their eyes to higher educational opportunities. 
GPS is an incentive-based program. For example, when students have perfect attendance for one full week they receive a free breakfast, and if they have perfect attendance for two full weeks, they receive two free movie tickets.  
High school is a road race where the students are the drivers, their parents and GPS staff the crew, and graduation the destination. Students can earn extra credits, get math tutoring, and participate in life skills classes. The staff makes sure that the students and parents know where they are, the choice of routes and resources available, and how to correct course when you make the wrong turn. 
Everyone celebrates milestones along the way with award ceremonies and certificates of accomplishment, free breakfasts and movie tickets, earned trips to RollerJam USA, Dave & Buster’s, and Six Flags. And, finally, students will arrive at graduation with their next trip already planned – college or other post-secondary training.
The crew – staff and parents -- look forward to guiding James and his classmates through a successful freshman year.  GPS will help them keep the destination in sight. 
The NYCID GPS crew includes:
·         Michael Candella, Director
·         Jessica Panettiere, Counselor
·         Jennifer Quirk, Attendance Outreach 
·         Maria Santana, Bilingual Family Outreach
·         Every student’s parents

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