Dear Editor, In response to the recent study from Bob Balfanz of Johns Hopkins University, who identifies nearly 1,700 Texas high schools that are considered “dropout factories,” let us not forget that the journey toward dropping out begins long before the student gets to high school. In fact, Balfanz has identified several powerful sixth-grade predictors of students “falling off track.” These include poor school attendance, poor behavior, and failing either math or English. For example, sixth-graders who fail English have only a one-in-eight chance of making it to the 12th grade on time, with only 16% graduating on time or with one extra year. If our goal is to rid our communities of “dropout factories,” we should work to ensure that students are adequately prepared during every stage of the education continuum. Our concern should not be simply that “dropout factories” exist but where along the educational pipeline we should invest in our youth to ensure that when they graduate from high school they are ready for college, work, and life. The earlier we begin the better.
Regards, Laura G. García Director of community building (education) United Way Capital Area