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Balfanz: L.A. Learning to Curb High School Dropouts

Robert Balfanz

Robert Balfanz

SOE Senior research scientist Robert Balfanz and Elise Buik of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles penned this Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. employers take note: New California Education Data show that 94,000 students in the class of 2010 dropped out of high school. Of them, 11,000 were from Los Angeles. Perhaps most disturbing is that the state was able to estimate that 17,000 additional students dropped out before they even got to high school. These numbers should serve as an alarm bell for L.A. companies, especially as recent studies warn that many California employers soon may be unable to find enough skilled workers to remain competitive.

If there’s any good news, it’s that we finally have the information needed to end the dropout crisis, thanks to the decade-long quest to get accurate measures of high school graduation rates combined with recent advances in developing early warning indicators for dropping out. Continue Reading →


Harvard study links academic setbacks to middle school transition

Students in the hall of their middle school


A new study from of Florida schools from Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance Working Papers Series suggests that, rather than high school, it is the transition from elementary to middle school that can trigger the critical transition issues that plague educators from 9-12th grade.

The study found that…

students moving from grade 5 into middle school show a “sharp drop” in math and language arts achievement in the transition year that plagues them as far out as 10th grade, even risking thwarting their ability to graduate high school and go on to college. Students who make a school transition in 6th grade are absent more often than those who remain in one school through 8th grade, and they are more likely to drop out of school by 10th grade.

Read more on this study and its implications at Education Week.


Success for All and Baltimore City schools among finalists for second round of i3 funding.

Success For All Foundation logoEducation Week:

By Guest Blogger Erik Robelen

The U.S. Department of Education has identified the 23 finalists expected to get Investing in Innovation, or i3, grants in the second round of the high-profile competition, including the Success For All Foundation—the only repeat winner—as well as the College Board, a California charter schools network, and five school districts.

The largest single grant is expected to go to Old Dominion University Research Foundation, based in Norfolk, Va., which requested nearly $25 million for a “scale-up” grant aimed at providing high-need middle schoolers with increased access to challenging math courses.

In all, 587 applicants were vying for a slice of nearly $150 million in this second round of the i3 program. Last summer, the Education Department awarded 49 grants totalling roughly $650 million.

All the new awards are contingent upon the applicants securing a private match of a portion of their grant total, ranging from 5 percent to 15 percent, depending on the type of grant requested.

Efforts to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM) education and rural schooling got a boost this round, as they were given added to a short list of categories given special emphasis by the department. In fact, one-third of the nearly $150 million in i3 funding is expected to target proposals that identified STEM as an “absolute priority,” according to the department.

“This round of i3 grantees is poised to have real impact in areas of critical need, including STEM education and rural communities, on projects ranging from early-childhood interventions to school turnaround models that will prepare more students for college and career,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a press release issued today.