03 November 2009

Survey to bring vital data on youth

From today's York Dispatch:

York County students are being surveyed through Nov. 13 to gather data about their behavior, their attitudes and their knowledge about alcohol, tobacco, drugs and violence.
The Pennsylvania Youth Survey will be administered to students in sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades in 15 of the county's 16 school districts and several charter schools.

The article says this will be the first time so many York County schools will participate in the survey. Why is that important? More students responding means more and better data, and that will help local officials better identify issues, assess programs and target spending needs.

In the bigger picture, this is a key part of the effort to reduce gang violence and youth crime and the related issues of truancy and school dropout rates. YorkCounts will hold a series of town halls on that very subject, starting with the first event in Dover on Nov. 9. The town halls, "Kids, Truancy and a County at Risk," will focus on the YorkCounts-United Way's Stay in School Report.

- Dan Fink


Robert Tabachini said...

A recent article that appeared in Education Week is relevant and timely. Author William Towne, who dropped out of high school but eventually graduated with honors from the University of Southern California, takes note of the nation’s “appalling” dropout rate and faults education reformers for not listening to a very important group: the dropouts themselves.

“Until reformers start listening to the students who have dropped out or are currently failing,” he says, “their attempts to reform schools also will fail.”

Towne says that when he was in school, he believed he would grow up to be a sports hero or rap superstar and school was therefore irrelevant. In addition, he found his classes boring.

“After analyzing my own grade-school failures and speaking with dozens of recent dropouts,” he says, “it’s clear to me that teacher effectiveness is the silver bullet. While programs like No Child Left Behind choose to focus on the need for 'highly qualified' teachers, the real emphasis should be on creating highly effective teachers.”

Teachers need to stop lecturing, Towne continues.

“Instead, find ways to make the lessons fun, engaging, and, most important, relevant to students’ lives… Making the lesson fun makes us want to come to class. We want to know what cool new thing will happen today. What will the teacher do next? We have to be there to find out. The last thing we want is to skip class and hear the next day how much fun it was.”

Towne also advocates involving students in making rules and listening to their ideas on creative lesson ideas, including a game-show format. He says that students should be assigned books in their areas of interest (“Forget Shakespeare for now”), and he likes the idea of cooperative learning groups, with grades based on each student’s progress.

Summing up, he says, “It’s that simple. Maybe it just takes a high-school dropout to see it.”

Anonymous said...

Unless parents are engaged early on (kdg,Ist grades) and learn that their children's success depends largely on their own interest in learning; reading to their children, attention to homework assignments; TV, video games, etc. turned off during homework hours; adequate sleep, and nutriious diets.

Early and continuous involvement is crutial to children's success in school. Also, parents need to give penalties to children who fail to show up at school. In my opinion, parents also need to suff- er some kind of tangible penalty