Reducing Dropout Rates and Closing the Achievement Gap

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Current interests in reducing high dropout rates and closing the achievement gap across many United States high schools have resulted in a major education reform. According to Durden (2008), with the passing of the No Child Left Behind legislation in 2002, national officials authorized the Comprehensive School Reform program to support low performing schools as they struggled to improve student achievement. As a result, a wide range of approaches have been considered to help solve this nation-wide concern. Durden (2008) discussed as a result of this national effort, an increase in implementation of comprehensive school reforms is occurring in schools serving predominantly diverse student populations in urban areas. Kemple et al., (2006) stated that while many different targeted programs and comprehensive reform strategies have been proposed as strategies to counter these problems, small learning communities (SLCs) or freshman academies have been incorporated. . Freshman academies or small learning communities (SLCs) are defined as small self-contained groups of students who take classes together from interdisciplinary teacher teams. (SLCs) have emerged as among the most common and potentially effective response. With the incorporation of small learning communities (SLCs) or freshman academies, there are other areas of importance needing change in addressing the problems of high dropout rates and the achievement gap. Important areas in need of change includes how we assess our students, preparation of America’s teachers, and development of appropriate curricular materials, policies, and practices for diverse students.


The purpose of this paper is to discuss specific factors that are related to dro...

... middle of paper ... both genders and from diverse cultural, language, and ethnic groups have an equal chance to experience school success. (p. 20)

Research does support indicators other than standardized tests and grades increases the dropout rate. It also reports that freshman academies can have a positive effect on the dropout rate and achievement gap. Research also supports multicultural education integrated into pre-service teacher education programs and school curricula can improve the high dropout rates and the wide achievement gap.

If we are to successfully educate all students in a multicultural society, we must continue to address the issues that are hindering our children from exposing their full potential. Banks (1993) stated, “Thus, early exposure to a multicultural curriculum has the most likelihood of success” (as cited in Christie, 2009).
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