Keeping kids in school

The good news is the graduation rate for Minnesota high school students is reaching the 90 percent mark. The not so good news — every year 15,000 kids dropout. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the percentages of students who graduate from school is much lower for American Indian, African American, and Hispanic students, as well as students in poverty, students with disabilities, and English language learners.

In an effort to increase the graduation rate, Minnesota has received a dropout-prevention grant from the federal government. This is the third year the state received the grant, which has allowed seven school districts to develop dropout-prevention programs. Additionally, alternative education programs allow students who are at risk of not graduating to attend nontraditional schools and earn a diploma. Minnesota has more than 150 alternative programs at more than 600 sites.

Beyond school programs, evidence is growing that keeping kids in school begins at home. According to a study conducted by Harvard Family Research Project, family involvement promotes success in school. The study found teens whose parents monitor their academic and social activities have higher rates of social competence and academic growth. In addition, the study found low-income African American children who have parent participation in their elementary school years are more likely to graduate from high school. Hispanic children whose parents emphasize the value of education as a way out of poverty are also more likely to graduate high school.

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