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First Lady and Acting Secretary of Education Announce 35 Schools Statewide Implementing Dropout Program

News for Immediate Release

Sept. 2, 2014

Tool is Part of the First Lady’s Opening Doors Initiative

Annville – First Lady Susan Corbett and Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq today visited Annville-Cleona School District, Lebanon County, to announce 35 Pennsylvania school districts and charter schools now implementing the dropout prevention Early Warning System and Interventions Catalog (EWS/IC.) The schools, located in 23 counties across the commonwealth, will start using the system during the 2014-15 school year.

“I am pleased that 35 more school districts across the commonwealth will be able to use this effective tool to identify middle school students who are at risk of dropping out of school,” Mrs. Corbett said.  “Identifying students early and intervening with help will have a positive impact on their lives.”

“The Early Warning System and Interventions Catalog not only gives teachers and school leaders the tools to recognize students who are at risk of dropping out, but identifies school, government and community based resources to keep students on track to graduate from high school.”

In 2011, Mrs. Corbett launched the Opening Doors initiative to increase the graduation rate and open the doors of educational opportunity to Pennsylvania students.  As part of her initiative, the Department of Education created an EWS/IC to help middle schools identify students who are at risk of dropping out. The students are then matched with school, government and community based resources to address the issues causing them to disengage from school.

Research shows that during middle school, students at risk of dropping out exhibit poor performance in the ABC’s: attendance, behavior and course performance.

Students who do not graduate from high school face personal economic hardship and impose a significant cost on their communities and to society.  A high school dropout earns $1 million less than a college graduate throughout their lifetime. During his or her life, they can cost the public sector $209,100 per year through use of public assistance and the corrections system.

Without intervention, students who demonstrate one or more of the dropout indicators only have a 20 percent chance of graduating on time.  If these students are identified and matched with appropriate interventions, their odds of graduating increase tremendously to 75%.

“Students who do not attend school and are not engaged in learning are at an extreme academic disadvantage,” Dumaresq said.  “The First Lady’s Opening Doors initiative is important because it not only highlights the drop-out issue, but it puts into place a comprehensive resource to provide schools with additional tools and strategies to help students remain in school.”

Pennsylvania’s four-year cohort graduation rate as of the 2012-13 school year was 86 percent.  This is an increase from 84 percent in 2011-12.

Three Pennsylvania school districts implemented the EWS/IC during the 2012-13 school year and provided feedback to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. They are Albert Gallatin Area School District in Fayette County, Erie School District in Erie County and the Harrisburg School District in Dauphin County.

Beginning this school year, the system is being made available to middle schools statewide at no cost to school districts or the state.  Federal and private grants and donations are funding the cost of implementation.

Since starting the Opening Doors initiative, Mrs. Corbett has traveled across the state meeting with superintendents and visiting schools and organizations to highlight best practices in keeping middle school students engaged and on track to graduate.

“A high-quality education is the cornerstone to success after high school,” Mrs. Corbett said.  “It is important for us to ensure that our students, teachers and schools have the necessary tools to help student graduate.”

Media Contact: Karen Gunnison, First Lady’s Office, 717-787-1965

Tim Eller, Dept. of Education, 717-783-9802

Editor’s Note:  Below is the list of school districts and charter schools that are implementing the Early Warning System and Interventions Catalog:

Fall 2014:

Bermudian Springs School District, Adams County

Central Cambria School District, Cambria County

Ferndale Area School District, Cambria County

Clarion-Limestone Area School District, Clarion County

Redbank Valley School District, Clarion County

Union School District, Clarion County

Curwensville Area School District, Clearfield County

South Middleton School District, Cumberland County

Brownsville Area School District, Fayette County

Carmichaels Area School District, Greene County

Jefferson-Morgan School District, Greene County

New Day Charter School, Huntingdon County

First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School, Philadelphia

Independence Charter School, Philadelphia

Memphis Street Academy Charter School, Philadelphia

Minersville Area School District, Schuylkill County

Tamaqua Area School District, Schuylkill County

Blue Ridge School District, Susquehanna County

Montrose Area School District, Susquehanna County

Burgettstown Area School District, Washington County

Dr. Robert Ketterer Charter School, Westmoreland County

Spring 2015:

Reading School District, Berks County

Altoona Area School District, Blair County

Jim Thorpe Area School District, Carbon County

Annville-Cleona School District, Lebanon County

Smethport Area School District, McKean County

East Stroudsburg Area School District, Monroe County

Hatboro-Horsham School District, Montgomery County

Pottsgrove School District, Montgomery County

West Perry School District, Perry County

Berlin Brothersvalley School District, Somerset County

Charleroi Area School District, Washington County

McGuffey School District, Washington County

Washington School District, Washington County

Red Lion School District, York County



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