By Ashley Gibbard
Holt Journal Staff Reporter
After Holt Public Schools Trustee Mark Needham attended an Ingham Schools Officers Association meeting he knew that Holt Public schools needed to improve their plan to keep students in the classroom.
“While our dropout rate is on par with national average we have a fair amount of ninth-grade students who start high school within the district and then end up switching to a different district,” Needham said. “That’s where our problem lies, and we are working every day to figure out why students are leaving and what we can do to keep them here.”
According to The National Center for Education Statistics the national high school dropout rate is about 6.5 percent and while Michigan’s dropout rate is 9.61 percent Holt Public Schools remains right with the national average at 6.9 percent. Most students who dropout of high school fit in the at risk category regrading GPA’s, family life and economic status.
Barbara Markle, Assistant Dean for K-12 Outreach in the College of Education at Michigan State University talks about the programs she works to implement in schools for at-risk students.
“I work with school faculty and policymakers to basically find a way to translate research data into programs to improve a schools and its student’s performance, Markle said.
“One of our main focuses is developing school turnaround expertise for high poverty, low performing urban schools and districts. Then hopefully the programs encourage students considered at risk to stay in school.”
Holt Public Schools uses its benchmark screening data in partner with its Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) to identify at-risk students and then intervene before a student gets to the point of dropping out of school.
“MTSS is one of our big programs,” Holt Public Schools Superintendent David Hornak said. “We use our AIMSweb online screeners to identify the bottom 30 percent of students in math, reading and writing District Interventionists provide additional interventions and progress monitoring for all students receiving free and reduced lunch.
“And with the continued growth of The H.O.L.T scholarship for at-risk students we hope that will also give them an incentive to stay in the classroom.”
When it comes to students just switching school districts, Hornak says they are continuously working on improving their retention plan.
“We are collecting as much data as possible, and taking the information from exit surveys and making our retention plan stronger. We want to make sure that every single student in our district gets all of their needs met.”