Dialogues to Help Reduce Dropouts
A new report from Civic Enterprises on dropouts provides snapshots of discussions among three groups—students, teachers, and parents—and reports on how the discussions were productive in fostering dialogue, discovering common ground, and leading toward positive solutions.
Civic Enterprises published the much-discussed "The Silent Epidemic" in 2006, which demonstrated through student voices the motivations of dropouts. Subsequent reports provided similar feedback from the perspectives of teachers and parents, and the fourth report in the series, "Raising Their Voices: Engaging Students, Teachers, and Parents to Help End the High School Dropout Epidemic," documents focus groups held in Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, and Kingston, Tenn. Members of each focus group remarked at the novelty of these different constituencies being brought together to discuss any topic, let alone the causes of dropouts.
Researchers discovered that there were serious disconnects between the views of the three groups; for instance, students cited boredom as the central reason for dropping out, while many teachers did not see this as a major cause. The report concludes that the discussions "demonstrated that the disconnects that we identified in previous research, including why students chose to drop out of school and what can be done about it, can be effectively bridged through structured dialogue and a spirit of mutual respect."
Take a look at the full report for detailed analysis and quotes from the groups, as well as a template and a guide to conducting a similar discussion in your community.