- Black Rock Continuation High School in California is giving individual attention to the most at-risk students, many facing poverty, addiction, or homelessness, with the goal to get them to graduation.
- Principal Vonda Viland spends much of her time interacting with her students and says the key to boosting achievement is listening to students and helping them solve their problems, according to Edutopia.
- Viland's school is the subject of a new Sundance-screened documentary airing on PBS called "The Bad Kids," which tracks her efforts to reach her students.
National statistics from the Alliance for Excellent Education show that about one million students who enter ninth grade do not graduate four years later with their peers, and about 7,000 high school students drop out each day. As states and local communities have been calculating the higher costs of non-graduates vs. graduates, in terms of economic impact and welfare services, there have been significant efforts to help step up graduation rates across the country using a variety of means.
Many states focus on increasing the rigor of high school courses as well as adding in college and career experiences into high school and focusing on building stronger relationships with students, all of which research has shown to make a difference, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Districts in Indiana, for example, have taken radical steps to work with at-risk students, including creating alternative programs that let them enroll in community colleges or begin jobs while still in school and creating dual-credit/enrollment programs for older students. In addition, schools must work with students to complete career path plans, and provide counseling.
In Texas, special funding has been made available to boost extracurricular activities for at-risk students, shown to help keep them in school, and for intensive academic and summer programs.