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Each year (US Department of Education, web site), almost one third of all public high school students and nearly one half of all blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans do not graduate from high school. Our text (Aries, p. vii) points out that there is a psychological and behavioral transition of independence from parents and with this, increased decision making and responsibility. This condition and process can perpetuate itself negatively, if there is not effective intervention with signs of trouble.

The decision to drop out of school has its roots much earlier in the process and must be recognized and dealt with effectively, before that decision is made.

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THE DECISION TO DROP OUT, CONSEQUENCES AND SOLUTIONS

In our text (Aries, p430), it points out (although parents set the foundation) schools have an increasingly important role in shaping the lives of adolescents. Some educators have faulted schools for failing to educate effectively, leading to adverse behavior, underachievement and eventually dropping out.

Parents have the obligation to promote stability at home as not to create conditions that contribute to excesses of storm and stress and other psychological intrusions into an already delicate adolescent to parent relationship. Peer influence caps this condition, with an ever increasing impact on decision making, as the adolescent moves toward more independence from parental influence. These are some of the primary points that we have discussed at length in class and the basis for further review of this topic.

Each year (US Department of Education, web site), almost one third of all public high school students and nearly one half of all blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans do not graduate from high school. The decision to drop out is a dangerous one, as they are more likely to be unemployed and subject to other pitfalls including drug addiction, involvement in criminal activities, poverty, health issues and other social disorder and getting to high school without learning basic skills, etc.

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The psychological impact of these and that of reduced self esteem can be devastating not only to the adolescent but to the family as well. While reasons vary, the base conditions noted are of high concern. Students drop out for many reasons, some which may even seem reasonable i. e. to help out their families, etc. Their decisions are often supported or even influenced by their peers. The bottom line is that the consequences of leaving can be great, as noted. Schools and families can help students stay in school, or at least to get an alternative education.

Reasons for dropping out run the gamut and include, lack of connection to school, just not interested, to get a job, to take care of a family member, school is boring, they are unmotivated, disinterested, disengaged, influenced by others and other academic challenges. The primary reason though is failing in school. As complex as all of these sounds, the process is usually gradual, with disengagement and poor attendance. It is important to note that the failure of proactive parental involvement is likely to seal the deal.

In hindsight, those that chose this route, have expressed great remorse for such a decision and in retrospect would have stayed in school had they known the consequences. What Might Help Students Stay in School? There are no simple solutions but the effort starts at home and is supported by an effective academic environment. The improvement of both teaching and curricula will enhance the “connection” and make these more relevant to the real-world. It is really a connection with economics, the value of school and getting a good job that is very important.

In chapter 12 of our text (Aries, p 430) the issues of school and work are explored in detail. It was noted, that in the early 20th century, a small number of adolescents, continued their education beyond grade school but today 90% receive diplomas. Although this sounds like a high success rate, it must be noted that demographics such as race and economic factors can change this dramatically and does. As a future business teacher, I certainly appreciate the value of a practical business education.

I intend to use my experiences in conjunction with appropriate and effective hands-on curriculum to that conclusion that I hope will enhance this experience and introduce students to its real-world application. I certainly believe that unless we provide a meaningful experience and connection to the real-world, it adds to the prospect of a student dropping out. As the chapter has eluded, some educators have faulted schools for failing to understand and address the needs of adolescents in not only issues of behavior and abusive activities but also failure in meeting vocational development of those less inclined for the college experience.

School should be an opportunity in which to develop “skills” in which to be successful. Educators and parents have an obligation to guide the process the best they can in support of the adolescent and in line with his/her abilities. This of course must be in conjunction with sound intellectual development and to stress as appropriate, entering the trades or preparing for admission to college. As a future business instructor, it is my obligation to prepare adolescents for the school/work connection, which I believe to be essential for connecting to the real-world.

I do not mean to over play this but in reality; business instruction lends itself to all disciplines and in its practicality quite necessary. As parents, we must understand basic economics and business practices to prepare family budgets, pay bills, do our taxes, balance our check book, etc. This must be taught in school. We must tap into the adolescent’s self-determination and sense of independence with practical applications involving teaching methods and curriculum that will energize and motivate. We as teachers must encourage them to buy into a process that will help them to be successful.

In section 12. 1, page 447, it concludes, that the “importance of designing educational and family environments provide a better match to developing needs and desires of the adolescent. There are other issues tied to the concept in 12. 1, including motivation, self esteem as well as behavior but the bottom line is in the ability to successfully address these in the context of a more effective and supportive environment. These are some of the things that will help a student stay in school and avoid the drop out epidemic that seems to be occurring, particularly in economically depressed areas.

Although there are drawbacks, I support the concept of part-time work as part of certain curriculum. I believe that in some cases, economically disadvantaged families can benefit from such activity. This helps the family as well with an added paycheck. It can also provide a sense of purpose for the adolescent and valuable work experience. This activity was rare in the mid 20th century (Aries, pg 453) but since the 1980’s nearly 75% of teenagers had some form of part-time work.

The down side of course, is long work hours can affect grades and motivation as well as other negative outcomes, such as the use of alcohol, drugs and increased aggressive behavior, etc. The key to this, is moderation… some work is good and too much not. Parents must be connected to the process. Teachers and administrators must be connected to the process as well, particularly if it is part of the schools vocational education program. Vocational education programs developed by the school system foster a greater connection among the teacher, student and the parent.

They all must work closely. An effective tool that can help in the process of helping students stay in school involves some sort of early warning system. A system that provides a trigger to allow for follow-up and follow-through such as excessive absenteeism is essential. School administration needs to know why and parents need to be informed so each can react accordingly. Struggling students that are not meeting academic standards, strategies must be developed through mentoring, monitoring, counseling, summer school and after school programs etc. Some form of intervention is essential.

Of course understanding the psychology of the adolescent through his/her actions and inactions are emphasized throughout our text and noted in some comments above. Further Study Needed While states and school districts have instituted drop out prevention programs, there needs to be consistency and sharing of successes. This issue needs to be addressed on a national level, similar to NCLB. Much of the literature that I have reviewed in preparing for this report, as well in as our text, alludes to this as a serious problem and in some cases a real crisis or epidemic.

Based on data from Green, Jay and Marcus Winters (2005), graduation rates in Arizona were between 70-90% but you can be assured, that in low income urban schools is at the lower end of the scale and even suggests that it can be at 50%. This requires more study and intervention. The Arizona Department of Education web site highlights the critical nature of this problem stating: “Dropout Prevention is a critical issue of national concern and is being aggressively addressed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mr.Tom Horne.

Mr. Horne has funded a Director of Dropout Prevention/High School Renewal position within the Department of Innovative and Exemplary Programs as an important part of his high school initiatives”. The State of Arizona’s approach is to evaluate existing program effectiveness as its research base and is stated on the web site as follows: “A primary goal for the Director of Dropout Prevention has been to visit with those in the field who are directing and implementing prevention programs.

Identifying Arizona programs which are showing promise in implementing effective prevention strategies is a lengthy, fluid, but important process. Three such programs were recognized last May during the Spotlight on Success Award Banquet and Conference. These programs will again have the opportunity to share what they have accomplished during the MEGA Conference this November”. In a study conducted by John M Bridgeland (2006) some areas that need further review, is the impact of uninspired teaching, as well as unmotivated students.

Comments such as “School is Boring and classes are not Interesting” are common. What creates these conditions? Certainly these areas require additional study. This study also points to the need for better communication between parents and the schools as getting parents involved provides greater motivation for the student. Another area of concern is the connectivity and involvement of the community. Without this support, appropriate funding for schools is sometimes difficult to get and we often see proposals rejected by the voters.

I believe that in an effort to better understand the lives and circumstances of the students that drop out is essential and certainly good ground for research, through their stories and reflections. Our text highlights the complexities of the adolescent and to better understand these is certainly worth the time and effort. In order to do this affectively, our text (p ix) provides some suggestions in a section titled “Understanding Adolescent Behavior” It is important to understand the base and sources of information and approach taken in an evaluation. There must be comfort relative to its quality.

This is often determined by publications from noted professionals in the field or articles published in esteemed journals and other publications, etc. Any study that is conducted, is generally either a continuation of one that is existing or at least considers such preview data. It is important to draw data from a variety of sources and include historical anthropological and clinical data if appropriate. Ultimately, if we are to consider a better or refined understanding of the adolescent relative to certain behavior, an empirical study would be most effective.

Observation and appropriate measurements is an effective tool. Another area of study would involve first-party accounts. This might involve parents and perhaps teachers, etc. This allows for another perspective in the evaluation process. One profession journal that dedicates itself to the process of researching adolescent issue’s is the Journal of Adolescent Research, which is published, Bi-monthly and considers many of today’s pressing problems. Just as a point of reference, in the Journal of Adolescent Research, Vol. 23, No. , 359-378 (2008)

Promoting Positive Youth Development, Implications for Future Directions in Developmental Theory, Methods, and Research by William M. Kurtines. An excerpt forms the abstract, highlight relative research: The efforts of the Miami Youth Development Project reported in this special issue illustrate how Developmental Intervention Science (DIS; a fusion of the developmental and intervention science) extended to include outreach research contributes to the development of community-supported positive youth development programs.

In the process, the articles further illustrate the general utility of Developmental Intervention Science outreach research in facilitating the use of descriptive and explanatory knowledge about changes within human systems that occur across the lifespan in the development of evidence-based individual and institutional change intervention strategies for promoting long-term developmental change. I believe that is an import source for adolescent research and is an important addition to my report.

The publications website highlights relative information as noted below: For over 20 years, the Journal of Adolescent Research (JAR) has been the must-read publication for all academics, practitioners, policy-makers, and journalists interested in a global perspective (not just North America) on adolescence (ages 10-18) and emerging adulthood (ages 18-25). Articles are emphasized that combine both quantitative and qualitative methods, use a systematic qualitative or ethnographic approach, break new theoretical ground, or use a new methodological approach.

The Journal also includes book reviews, and a new column called “Editorial Essays,” in which a prominent scholar will discuss an important issue in a looser format than the rest of the journal (opinion pieces, commentary, and wit & wisdom). Every informative issue of JAR includes original, theoretical and research articles on topics such as sexual behavior, perceptions of adulthood, drug and alcohol abuse, environmental contexts, educational issues, ethnic identity, and resilience.

Another publication of note is the Journal of Research on Adolescence (JRA) which presents methodological and theoretical papers of the highest standards of scholarship. Studies are featured that use diverse methods including multivariate, longitudinal, demographic, clinical, ethnographic, and experimental analyses. Cross-national, cross-cultural, and studies of gender, ethnic, and racial diversity are of particular interest.

In considering current research and as an example of adolescent research, they are conducting a symposium on family issues and relative considerations: “Development of Hispanic Children in Immigrant Families: Challenges and Prospects,” is the topic of Penn State’s 16th Annual Symposium on Family Issues, to be held October 23-24, 2008, on the University Park campus. Sixteen scholars from major institutions will integrate perspectives from multiple social sciences and address policy implications.

Presentations and discussions at the symposium will focus on (1) social ecologies of Hispanic children in immigrant families, including the range of setting characteristics and the ways in which setting characteristics have implications for child and youth well-being and development, (2) the role of families in children’s successful adaptation to new “host” environments; (3) the implications of school and community contexts as well as education policies for children’s school experiences and academic achievement; and (4) the roles of health care, social service provision, and health policies in children’s health and well-being.

This publication was established in the winter of 1984; the Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA) is a rapidly growing, dynamic society focused on the theoretical, empirical, and policy research issues of adolescence. This group also has a web site dedicated to adolescent peer relationships which is one area that we spent considerable time discussing in class. Welcome to the PIAPER website! Much of the research on adolescents’ interactions and relationships with peers has focused exclusively on the peer micro system.

Yet, researchers are well aware that other aspects of a young person’s life have a profound impact on peer relationships and, in turn, are affected by these relationships. Chief among these other aspects is the family. Although there is considerable research on family-peer linkages during the toddler and childhood years, scholarship about such linkages during adolescence is more limited. The SRA Study Group on Parental Involvement in Adolescent Peer Relations (PIAPER) was initiated in 2004 to bring together scholars leading the growing interest in the intersection of peer and family worlds during adolescence.

Of particular concern is how parents and parent-child or family relationships affect and are affected by adolescents’ interactions with peers during this stage of life. The PIAPER Study Group is international in scope, involving scholars from a variety of nations and cultures and encouraging awareness of the cultural context in which family-peer linkages occur. The purpose of the PIAPER Study Group is to exchange ideas, organize collaborations among research groups, sponsor presentations at scientific meetings, coordinate publications, and serve as a clearinghouse for information about research on this issue.

Click on the tabs to the left to learn more about Study Group members and their research, current and past activities of the Study Group, and scholarship on this important aspect of adolescent development and behavior. These are just a few publications that promote adolescent research and are worthy of review as part of my report. Conclusion In conclusion, all of the references and other articles point towards the dropout issue as an epidemic.

There are barriers to learning that often precede this condition. The decision to drop out of school is complex and involves not only the psychological aspects that we have reviewed as part of our class work but failures in community…a failure to participate and be involved. There is school apathy, student apathy, parent apathy, ineffective teaching methods and ineffective curriculum. Teachers must inspire and motivate through appropriate classroom demeanor and the use of effective and teaching strategies.

The dropout epidemic is more acute in urban settings and in areas that are experiencing economic crisis. Parental instability is high on the list as well, with nearly 50% of marriages failing. This creates both trial and tribulation for the adolescent and misdirects the energy by the parents. It is certainly is a no win situation, that just compounds a delicate balance. There is effective research being conducted, some noted in selected professional journals and mentioned above.

Leading educators have concluded that more must be more research that includes researching student behavior in this area and other attitudes involving school. It is important to involve those that are close enough to the adolescent and have first hand experience with this as well. In a final analysis, there are no simple solutions or quick fixes but an effort must be made by all concerned from state, local and federal officials and appropriate departments and the community must be involved.

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