Happy Holidays

No matter which holiday you celebrate – I wish you, your family and your loved ones a happy, joyous and fruitful holiday. And for the world in the New Year – I wish for a year of peace.



Nation’s Graduation Rate Dramatically Improves

The national high school graduation rate has risen to a new all-time high: 84 percent, the fifth straight year of increases, according to data published by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES)

The graduation rate for the high school class of 2015-16 is nearly a whole point higher than the one for the previous year’s class which was 83.2 percent. The rate measures the proportion of each freshman class (cohort group) that earns a diploma four years later.

All groups of students showed improvements. The graduation rates for black students and for students who are learning English each rose 1.8 percentage points in one year. The rates for low-income students and Hispanic students each rose 1.5 points since the previous year. Students with disabilities saw a gain of nearly a full percentage point.

” There are more graduates this year than last. That’s a good thing.” said Phillip Lovell, the vice president for policy and advocacy at the Alliance for Excellent Education, which works on high school policy issues.

The fact that all subgroups of students showed gains is “super important,” Lovell said. “We don’t want to increase the national grad rate and leave behind kids.”

Despite the gains, however, there is still cause for concern. Some groups of students are still graduating at far better rates than their peers; there is a gap of more than 14 percentage points between Asian and African-American students, for instance. Low-income students lag behind their overall class by more than six points. 

High school students show that they have a long way to go to be ready to succeed in college, too. Every year, large proportions of students fall below the college-readiness benchmark scores on the SAT and ACT.

What Does a Diploma Mean?

Robert Balfanz, a Johns Hopkins University researcher, said that the new rates show real progress for “the groups that need progress the most”—low-income and minority students, students with disabilities and those learning English. But he said it’s important that educators and policymakers keep their eye on a key issue: the rigor of the work students are asked to do for their diplomas.

“We can devalue anything if we give it away,” Balfanz said. “We need to be sure these kids are earning honest diplomas.”

Federal requirements that schools report graduation rates by student subgroup helped “shine a spotlight” on work that needed to be done, and lead schools to set goals for improvement. But good national or state graduation rates can also camouflage wide variations among schools. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, a school is considered a “low graduation rate” school if it fails to graduate two-thirds of its students within four years. The distribution of those schools varies widely from state to state. In 2015, 12 percent of all U.S. high schools were low-graduation rate schools, according to GradNation.

How Real Are the Gains?

Michael J. Petrilli, the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which studies academic standards and accountability, said “There is a plausible case to be made that the education system is doing a better job for more of these kids, especially for disadvantaged subgroups,”.

Thirty-four states had a graduation rate between 80 and 89 percent. Washington DC and New Mexico had the lowest graduation rate at 69 percent.  Iowa and New Jersey had the highest graduation rate at 90 percent. The state of Alabama was not counted because its “reporting standard were not met.”

Thanks to all educators who made this possible.

Extracted from Education Week, December 4, 2017, by Catherine Gewertz





Attendance Counts – Starting with Kindergarten

Attendance Counts –  Starting with Kindergarten

Why is kindergarten so important? A 2011 California study found that 64 percent of students with good attendance in kindergarten and first grade could read at grade level after third grade, but only 17 percent of students who were chronically absent in both grades could do so.

Poor attendance through all grades, according to Attendance Works, is four times more likely among low-income students – the ones with the strongest need for class time to boost their math and reading scores. And the further behind a student gets, the less likely he or she is to graduate.

What can be done to get students to show up? Techniques include educating parents of kindergarten students about the importance of attendance, letting them know quickly when attendance problems arise, addressing any barriers that are preventing students from making it to school.  Schools can send text messages to parents starting at 6:45AM each morning to remind parents to get their children ready for school. The schools can also pass out hygiene kits to young students to help reduce illnesses and the resulting absences.



October is Anti-Bullying Month

In 1997, 18 percent of households had internet access. In 2017, 92 percent of teenagers from around the world, according to Child Trends, access the internet daily. Any young person turning 13 this year  has never lived in world without Facebook. In 2014-2015, three-quarters of youth could access their smartphones to use the internet anytime, anywhere.

Social media provides opportunities that help build communities, engage with others, and gain exposure to new ideas from around the world. But it also provides a dark side, it provides an opportunity for bullying. Around one-third of young people between the ages of 12-17 (31 percent of males, 36 percent of females) report experiencing cyberbullying at some point of their lifetime. Cyberbullying does not require the bully and the bullied to be in the same place at the same time and can occur more anonymously.

Bullying affects a young person’s social, emotional and psychological development.

While schools play a role in dealing with bullying and cyberbullying so do parents, and the rest of society.


TEACH Students HOW to Learn 

This has been sent to me by a dear colleague, Marie Sobers. Marie is the George Mason University Supervisor, Division of Special Education and Disability Research. Marie raises an interesting point. We do not know how students learn to learn.

Each year we enter classrooms armed with curriculum, pacing guides and other tools that are designed to drive instruction.  These tools are designed to assure that students learn what is deemed important in each content area.  To greatly increase the likelihood that students meet these goals and be better equipped to face learning needs in their future, we must teach them HOW to learn.  If we take the time to teach students HOW to approach learning by purposefully teaching the thinking and action processes necessary to fully achieve both the letter and spirit of the goals, the WHAT of the learning will quickly follow.  Arguably, the HOW is more important than the WHAT.  Once students learn HOW to learn, they will be able to transfer those skills to new learning opportunities that greet them each day.


A Milestone Reached

This website went “live” on December 15,2007 – almost 10 years ago. Today it hit a milestone. As of this morning over 500,000 people had paid a visit. Over 1/2 of them are “unique” – first time visitors.

The list of visitors reads like a list from the United Nations. Visitors have come from the United States and Canada -_expected. But from the developing world as well as the developed world. (The number three nation is Morocco.)  I would estimate that visitors have come about 130 nations.  The #1 topic searched is dropout prevention with #2 being alternative education.

This is really your website. Your comments and suggestions have driven the direction and topics.  Please continue to offer suggestions, comments (both positive as well as negative.)

I thank all of you for your support.

With sincere appreciation,



Teaching Force is Still White and Female

But there are signs that the nation’s teaching force is gradually growing more diverse. The survey used a nationally representative sample of 40,000 teachers. The results were the average teacher is:

  • White
  • Female
  • Age 42
  • Has 14 years experience
  • Makes $55,100 salary
  • And works 53 hours a week

Other results indicate:

  • The teaching force is growing and becoming more female.
  • Hispanic teacher population is growing
  • Charter teachers have less experience than traditional educators.
  • Enrollment in charters has increased more rapidly over the last 10 years.
  • Traditional teachers are more likely to have a master’s degree.
  • Traditional teachers have 14 years experience as opposed to charter teacher’s 10.



President Trump is Proposing a 15% Cut in Career and Technical Funding


Article on Increasing School Attendance Has Just Been Posted

I am honored to be a member of the Akribos Group. They have just posted my article on increasing School Attendance. You can find the article here or by visiting you can see their website and download additional articles from other members of the group.


Increasing School Attendance
By: Franklin Schargel, Akribos Professional Associate

Students who are not in school frequently do not learn. Did you know that missing just two days a month is equal to missing 10 percent of the school year and could lead to a student’s falling behind? In most states, that is defined as a habitual truant. A habitual truant refers to a child of compulsory school age who is absent without a legitimate excuse for five or more consecutive school days, seven or more school days in one month or twelve or more school days in a school year. Not only does this impact on a child, their parents but the school and the school district as well. Schools and their leaders are rated on their performance in part by the number of students who regularly attend. In some states, school funding is based on the number of students who attend regularly.  What can leaders do to encourage students to attend?

Read More



The Number of Children with ADHD

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “approximately 11 percent of children in the United States between the ages of 4 and 17 have received a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (ADHD)

While parents must deal with this every day, teachers may have one or more ADHD students in their classes. My heart goes out to both.



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