Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Focus on '1 in 5' for 2015

Last year, I wrote a New Year's Resolution challenge call "Will your PLC put the 1 - 4 in 2014?"  It challenged collaborative teams to keep the focus on the 1 thing that matters most, All Kids Learning Every Day, and in order to do that collaborative teams must guarantee learning by focusing on the 4 questions of a PLC.
  1. What do we expect all kids to learn?
  2. How will we know if they have learned?
  3. How will we respond if they don't learn?
  4. How will we respond when they do learn?
This year, I would like to raise the stakes a bit.  Since we are leaving 2014 behind and entering 2015, I would like to encourage you and your team to keep your eyes on "1 in 5" for 2015.

What is 1 in 5?

It's pretty simple.  One in every five students starts high school but never graduates.  This statistic has improved from a few years ago when the stats showed that 1 in 4 failed to graduate, but let's be honest. 4 out of 5 kids graduating from high school is still not good enough?  That leaves behind 1 in 5 who will graduate but it will be into a life of poverty, a life of governmental dependence, a life of poorer quality of health and a higher probability of entering the pipeline to imprisonment.

Who are the 1's?

Well there's no sure fire method to predict who will drop out, but here is what research shows.  
  • 1 in 2 fatherless children will drop out.
  • 1 in 3 teenage mothers will drop out.
  • Minority students are twice as likely as white students to drop out.
  • Kids who fail to read on level by grade 3 have a strong chance of never graduating.
  • Students of poverty are 2 years behind their affluent counterparts; thus more susceptible to vanishing from high school.
  • Students with unaddressed language barriers are likely to leave without a diploma.
  • Students who are highly mobile have probably the greatest chance of falling through the cracks.
Are you starting to see the 1's who are in danger of dropping out?

Ending the Drop-out Rate Starts with You

Whether you are a kindergarten teacher, a senior English teacher, bus driver or any role in between, you can reduce the dropout rate and there is only one thing you need to do.


The warning signs are pretty obvious:  withdrawn, history of failure, persistent discipline issues, learning difficulties.  You may not be the one who can fix those problems, but you are the one who can build a relationship with 1 to 5 kids who are in the danger zone.  You can be the one who reminds them daily that they have worth and can reach their dreams.  In short, focusing on the 1 in 5 is deeper than focusing on preventing the dropout rate.  It's about you and never forgetting that we have the potential to be the ones that can save lots of kids from becoming another statistic.

In 2015, #URthe1

The reason you made it to your current places in life is because someone inspired you and never gave up on your potential.  Whether it was your parents or your educators, chances are that someone played a vital part in shaping you throughout most of the years that you were in school.  Every kid needs regular motivation to succeed, but at-risk students don't always have consistent people invested in them or constant motivation to help them hurdle the overwhelming obstacles in their path.  That's why they need you and me, and why we should never underestimate our potential to turn statistics into success stories.


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