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Success Anywhere

From the American Graduate series on WAMU 88.5, “Scaling Up Solutions To The Dropout Problem:”

The cheers are a daily ritual at Browne , a struggling K-8 school hosting a group of City Year volunteers as part of the “Diplomas Now” program. The volunteers also interact with students one-on-one. [...]

Researchers and educators continue to design new ways to help improve the success rates of schools like Browne, which has less than 30% of its students reading and doing math at grade level. But one of the biggest challenges is translating those one-off programs into systems that can be successful in any school.

The problems Browne students face at home spill into school. Truancy is a problem, and on a single November day, there were eight fights police were called in to deal with two. Unless these children have their needs met, it’s difficult for them to concentrate on schoolwork and they will eventually drop out, Balfanz adds. [...]

A school with a positive culture and great teachers will lead to improvements for 80% of the children, according to Thomas Acampora, who is helping implement Diplomas Now at Browne. Another 15 percent need a little more “nagging and nurturing,” which the City Year volunteers help with. The last 5%, Acampora says, is “really rough and really tough and has challenges that’s outside the normal scope of a school to solve.”

The creation of positive culture and enablement of great teaching are themselves not easy tasks; and the “nagging and nurturing” are the focus of an entire corps of volunteers. So what about the remaining five percent? How can we give schools the resources to serve them, to provide the stability and the resources that they need simply to concentrate?

Learn more about City Year, Washington DC (a Catalogue non-profit) right here. City Year brings together a diverse group of young adults for a year of full-time, team-based community service; the “corps members” deliver HIV/AIDS prevention education, provide literacy tutoring and academic support, and organize and implement leadership development opportunities for middle school students.

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