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Policy Fixes to Dropout Crisis and Alternative Education

With nearly one in three students failing to graduate from high school each year, President Obama has labeled the dropout crisis "a problem we cannot afford to accept and cannot afford to ignore."

Jobs for the Future, a Boston-based education policy organization, is calling for immediate and drastic action to address the challenge in two reports released today: Six Pillars of Effective Dropout Prevention and Recovery and Reinventing Alternative Education. The reports include assessments of current state policies and proposals for improvement.

New federal legislation requiring states to develop more accurate ways of counting dropouts and holding districts more accountable for improving results has "created an environment ripe for action," according to JFF. There appears to be some momentum on the issues with 36 states and the District of Columbia have enacting new dropout legislation since 2002.

The six dropout-related state policy elements that JFF recommends are:

1. Raise the compulsory age to 18 and require students to stay in school until they earn a diploma
2. Enhance data collection in counting and accounting for dropouts
3. Help districts with low graduation rates implement far-reaching reforms
4. Create and sustain vehicles for developing "back on track" models
5. Include "off-track" students in strategies for accelerating high school completion and preparation for postsecondary success
6. Provide stable funding for systemic reform

The seven alternative education policy elements that JFF recommends for states are:

1. Broaden eligibility guidelines
2. Clarify state and district roles and responsibilities
3. Strengthen accountability for results
4. Increase support for innovation
5. Provide staff incentives
6. Enhance student support services
7. Enrich funding

See and compare each state's policies with interactive online maps on drop-out prevention and alternative education.

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