Nationally, 80 percent of students who make it to 9th grade graduate high school. But in some urban centers, 40 percent or more dropout. Tonight at 9pm on WVIZ-PBS, a documentary called “Facing Forward” examines the “safety net” for at-risk students, including a Cleveland area student’s story. It was the topic of discussion earlier today on the “Sound of Ideas.” Ideastream’s Brian Bull reports:
Tyree Stewart struggled at home and in school, He faced “environmental’ challenges. He made some poor choices. And at one point got kicked out. He’s a very driven personality though, and eventually got back on track.
“As a student, if you don’t have the grades, you don’t have the options," says Stewart. "And if a student is expelled from a high school and it can’t go to another high school, where’s the second chance? People do change.”
Stewart is now at Kent State studying aeronautics. He’s among the 60 percent of Cleveland-area kids who’ve attained a high school diploma…a low rate compared to Rocky River and Chagrin Falls, which both come to roughly 99 percent.
How to improve retention rates is a tough, complicated question. Brian Williams is Coordinator of Alternative Programming at Cleveland Heights-University Heights High school.
“We want students to understand that the choices that they make each day, often determine their ultimate destiny." says Williams. "So we want to create an environment that is nurturing, that allows them to dig deep in order for them to engage in their studies, in order for them to be successful.”
Mentoring, parental involvement, individualized attention, and helping students understand the ramifications of not graduating are among the practices educators are taking to improve the situation.