In the News...
Dropout bill headed to governor
The Arvada Press
By: Megan Quinn
March 16, 2012
School districts may reconsider their formal procedures for identifying future dropouts after new legislation goes to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk.
Co-sponsored by Sens. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, and Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, the bill would ask Jeffco Public Schools and school districts across the state to consider adopting procedures that could help prevent middle schoolers from dropping out of school later in their educational career.
Most districts already have dropout prevention programs, such as Jeffco Public Schools' Dropout Prevention and Recovery program. The new legislation asks districts to look deeper into policies and procedures, especially as they relate to middle schoolers.
The bill also would create a task force to determine what might help keep high-risk children in school. Depending on each student's needs, districts could provide counseling, tutoring options or other types of help.
Some students show signs that they might drop out before they hit high school, said Dave Kollar, director of dropout prevention and recovery at Jeffco Public Schools.
Some of the signs include low grades, skipping class, misbehavior or signs of depression.
The bill aims to address middle school students in particular because many schools already focus on keeping high school students from dropping out.
"A lot of the focus is on high school and college entrance tests, but there's the thought that we might need to start earlier than that," Hudak said. "Middle school is a key transition point, and if things don't go well there, it might lead to a student dropping out later."
Under the bill, schools that identify high-risk students will be required to notify parents about the situation, but parents will have the authority to decide whether they want their child to take part in intervention programs.
Kollar said Jeffco's intervention programs parallel the suggestions outlined in the bill.
"The bill is reiterating, 'heres what good intervention looks like,'" he said.
Last year, Jeffco Schools had an 86 percent graduation rate, which was one percent—or 60 students — higher than the 2009-2010 rate, according to the district's year-end report.