Ed Week: High dropout rate for black males in KIPP

KIPP charter middle schools enroll a significantly higher proportion of African-American students than the local school districts they draw from, but 40 percent of the black males they enroll leave between grades 6 and 8, says a new nationwide study by researchers at Western Michigan University. “The dropout rate for African-American males is really shocking,” said Gary J. Miron, a professor of evaluation, measurement, and research at Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, and the lead researcher for the study. “KIPP is doing a great job of educating students who persist, but not all who come.”

Drama in their lives

Last school year, 11 percent of the entire student population—41,771 students—were classified as chronic truants. These students were absent for almost a month: 18 days out of a 170-day school year. In contrast, the average truancy rate elsewhere in Illinois has remained at a stable 2 percent for the past decade. And this fall, CPS is serving 9,000 homeless children, more than the district has ever had so early in the school year. Schools can’t solve these problems on their own. Help must come from the outside.

Second chance for dropouts

The average student who enrolls in an alternative school faces steep odds to graduating. Low skills, tough lives and scarce resources at schools are big barriers. New York has a strategy for dropout recovery, but CPS has yet to develop one.