LearnBoost welcomes Munford Elementary School
This school division contains public schools serving the independent city of Richmond, Virginia. It is occasionally described locally as Richmond City Public Schools to emphasize its connection to the independent city rather than the Richmond-Petersburg region at large or the rural Richmond County which is located in a different region northeast of the city.
In October of 2009, the Richmond Times Dispatch printed an editorial entitled “Dropping In,” briefly outlining a program meant to reduce the number of high school dropouts in Richmond’s public school system. In this article it was revealed that Richmond’s dropout rate was “hovering around 15 percent”. It was also stated on the Richmond Public Schools’ website that the four-year-cohort dropout rate was 14.8 percent for the 2005-2009 cohort, declined from its 16.2 percent rate for 2004-2008.
While the percentage is declining, dropout and late graduation rates are still an issue. In October of 2009 in a News Release about Richmond Public Schools, it is stated that “the latest data for students in the 2005-2009 cohort indicate that nearly 69 percent (68.7) of Richmond’s students graduated on time." This is an increase from the 2004-2008 cohort rate of 65.8 percent and it is well below the state average of 83.2 percent .
While high dropout rates in the school system are a problem, positive action is being taken, as of 2009. On October 21, 2009, the superintendent of Richmond City Public Schools, Yvonne W. Brandon, unveiled a plan called “Dropout Prevention Initiative” (DPI). The objective of this program is to continue to decrease the school system’s dropout rate.
There are a few objectives to the DPI. The first is to find high school dropouts and convince them to return to high school to graduate through mentoring programs, Individual Learning Plans (ILP), and partnerships with others in the community. These “others” include higher education institutions, elected officials, as well faith-based and community-based organizations. One of the most appealing aspects of the DPI is that it requires no additional funding and is solely a redistribution of resources.
There is a district-wide mentoring program as a part of DPI that encourages Richmond Public Schools employees and students to serve as mentors once the recovered students return to school. There are also mentors provided by the higher educational institutions and the faith- and community-based organizations with which the DPI has partnerships.
A unique aspect of this program is that recovery specialists within the DPI literally walk door-to-door to the homes of students who have dropped out to talk with them about and encourage the possibility of returning to school. Once the student does return to school, he/she will be assisted by the DPI Intake Counselors, who work with recovered students to help the student re-adjust to being in school. Upon his/her return, the student will also receive an ILP. The ILP is, as stated by the Richmond Public Schools website, “an online educational plan for students that helps pair students’ career goals with academic and career and technical courses needed to accomplish their future interests”.
The program also recognizes at-risk students and works on preventing student dropouts, rather than only trying to reverse it. Richmond Public Schools have implemented “Extensive Mandatory Professional Development” for staff on how to effectively identify and help at-risk students. There is also a new “Get In – Stay in” media campaign on the radio and television to help encourage attendance among students .
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