From Service-Learning Wiki
Through its ability to provide hands-on learning and engage students, and to cater for diverse cultural perspectives and contexts, service-learning has gained momentum as a promising strategy for dropout prevention.
The definition of a dropout varies widely, with different states, districts, and even schools within districts using the term differently. The commonly used status dropout rate represents the percentage of 16- through 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or equivalency credential, such as a General Educational Development [GED] certificate).
While the measurement of high school completion is also contentious, it is believed that the U.S. high school graduation rate is about 70 percent overall, and near 50 percent for minority students.
A 2008 report by Civic Enterprises posits that because service-learning brings meaning to classroom lessons and engages students in hands-on activities, students who participate are less likely to drop out. The report, "Engaged for Success: Service-Learning as a Tool for High School Dropout Prevention", suggests that service-learning is a promising way to not only stem the tide of dropouts, but create a new generation of youth who are academically prepared for success in college and who possess a strong sense of civic responsibility. Presenting key findings from both primary and secondary research, including interviews with students and teachers, the report shows that service-learning can improve aspects of education that are needed to address the dropout crisis: connection to school, attendance, engagement, student motivation, academic performance, and good behavior.
Among its findings, 82 percent of students who participate in service-learning, and 80 percent of at-risk students not in service-learning programs, say their feelings about attending high school became or would become more positive as a result of service-learning.
The magnitude of the dropout crisis has been well documented in recent years, in reports such as The Silent Epidemic (2006) and Cities in Crisis: A Special Analytic Report on High School Graduation (2008).
Studies have validated the positive effects of service-learning on at-risk students (Follman, 1998; O'Bannon, 1999). It has proven to be particularly effective in reducing teen pregnancy (Kirby, 2001; Melchior, 1999). Students are more apt to vote and become politically active if they participate in service-learning activities (Morgan & Streb, 2001).
The National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N) works to increase high school graduation rates through research and evidenced-based solutions. It is a national resource for sharing solutions for student success through its clearinghouse function, active research projects, publications, and through a variety of professional development activities. Service-learning is one of the organization's effective strategies for dropout prevention.
America's Promise Alliance is supporting more than 100 state and local Dropout Prevention Summits across the country in 2008-10. Every governor has been invited to host a statewide summit, and an additional 55 mayors and superintendents have been invited to host separate city-level summits.
The National Youth Leadership Council for more than 20 years has engaged in a variety of strategies to bring service-learning to urban communities. Among its main initiatives are the National Urban Service-Learning Institute, the Service-Learning Emerging Leaders Initiative, the National Youth Leadership Training, Y-RISE, and ongoing efforts to create urban service-learning hubs as part of the Generator School Network.
The California Dropout Research Center has commissioned a series of research studies on four facets of the dropout issue: the nature of the problem, the economic and social consequences of the problem, the causes of the problem, and (d) solutions to the problem.
In Montana the 2006-09 Learn and Serve grants promote service-learning projects that reduce dropout rates.
NDPC/N maintains a database of model programs that utilize service-learning to tackle the dropout challenge.
Rhode Island's Shea Government and Public Administration Academy was created in a school district facing challenges such as gangs and teen pregnancy. Letting student serve with local government agencies, the program has developed into a national model. In 2008, 100% of the district's high school students attending the academy were accepted to higher education.
- ^ Bridgeland J., DiIulio J., Wulsin S. (2008). Engaged for success: Service-learning as a tool for high school dropout prevention. Washington, DC: Civic Enterprises. Retrieved from 
- ^ Bridgeland, J. M., DiIulio Jr., J. J., and Burke Morison, K. (2006). The silent epidemic: Perspectives of high school dropouts. Washington, DC: Civic Enterprises. Retrieved from 
- ^ Swanson, C. (2008). Cities in crisis: A special analytic report on high school graduation. Bethesda, MD: EPE Research Center. Retrieved from 
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