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Contributing Factors for Drop out rate in Evart Gayle Underwood 1 1


									           Discovering The Root Cause Factors That Contribute To
                 The Drop Out Rate In Evart Public Schools

                             By Gayle Underwood
                  And the Stakeholders in Evart Public Schools

Background of Evart
Evart, Michigan is a rural community. Tourism and farming, mainly dairy and
beef, play a big role in the area as well. It is a good example of small town living,
where the pace of life is a bit slower and is a place where everyone knows
everyone else. Just over 1,100 students attend Evart Public Schools. In the
2008 school year, sixty-one percent of students were in the economically
disadvantaged subgroup. The district has shown a great commitment to the
Responsible Thinking Process with all buildings being certified by Ed Ford. This
positive behavior support helps teachers teach and students learn in a safe
environment. Despite the focus on teaching and learning, the drop out rate is a
concern for the district.

The following statement generated during this project reveals more about Evart.

 “In previous generations Evart was an agricultural center that was not
necessarily focused on high school education. You did not need it to work on the
farm. Then it became a one factory town with easy to get jobs, again not needing
four years of high school. Now with the downsizing of the one factory you have
an accumulation of undereducated people who are stuck in the poverty cycle. In
some ways it looks generational.” (Jim Mishler, Special Education Director of
Mecosta-Osceola ISD, June 2008)

“I guess I don't see the people of the community as poor...they are rich in giving
of time and efforts, family structures, and are very supportive.” (Carol Phelps,
Principal Evart Elementary, August 2008)

The Project Begins
In May of 2008 a team was formed that began the journey for discovering the
factors that contribute to the drop out rate at Evart Public Schools. To
accomplish this goal, they used a disciplined dialogue approach called Structured
Dialogic Design Process (SDDP), which included gathering stakeholders who are

Contributing Factors for Drop out rate in Evart Gayle Underwood                      1
affected by this issue and working together as a group to learn about the issue
from their various perspectives. The last step of the discovery was finding the
relationship among the factors they felt contributed to the drop out rate and
identifying the root cause factors. Anyone interested in learning more about the
process employed in this approach for disciplined dialogue should visit:

The facilitation team for this project, called the Knowledge Management Team
(KMT) consisted of five people which included three administrators from the
Evart area, one lead facilitator of SDDP and one Technology Integration
Consultant who helped coordinate the online participation of the stakeholders.
The KMT met online several times during May and June of 2008 using email and
voice conferencing technology (Skype) to learn from each other. The lead
facilitator and technology consultant shared their knowledge of the SDD process
and how the participants would use Wiki technology to collaborate on this issue.
The administrators from Evart shared their knowledge of their community and
their students in relationship to the drop out rate. The KMT assessed the scope
of the problem situation to be investigated and framed the following Triggering

"What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

A group of eleven educators comprised the stakeholder group from Evart Public
Schools. They were engaged over a period of approximately two weeks in June
of 2008 to focus on the drop out rate of students in their school district. The
educators consisted of principals from elementary school, middle school, and
high school; the principal of the alternative high school, teachers from
kindergarten, second grade, English and special education; a teacher consultant,
the Director of Special Education and an Assistive Technology Coordinator. The
member of the KMT responsible for gathering the stakeholders stated how
difficult it was to get staff to participate during the end of the school year and into
the summer months. Although an effort was made, no students were recruited
into this project.

About the Process
Two types of technologies were used to conduct the disciplined dialogue. A Wiki
website was constructed to enable the participants to ‘talk’ to each other through
online discussions, and the Cogniscope II Software was used to compile the
responses from the Wiki into tables and diagrams and to help participants
structure a “root cause map” from their factors during face-to-face sessions. (Find
more information about the software )

A live, one-hour Webinar was conducted to train the participants on how to use
the Wiki. The lead facilitator and technology consultant used screen sharing
technology and Skype to show the participants in Evart how to use the Wiki for

Contributing Factors for Drop out rate in Evart Gayle Underwood                       2
four rounds of structured dialogue. At the time of the Webinar, the lead facilitator
was in Crete, the technology consultant was in south western lower Michigan and
the participants were in northern Michigan. Participants were able to register for
the Wiki and interact with each other using the discussion features that were built
into every page of the Wiki. Those who could not attend this live event were
trained by other members of the KMT who worked in Evart.

Beginning on June 12, 2008 the stakeholders used the Wiki for four rounds of
asynchronous disciplined dialogue, adhering to rules which were monitored by
the lead facilitator. Round Five was conducted synchronously in Evart for three
hours, with everyone at the same place at the same time. Although it was
requested that all participants attend this face to face, synchronous meeting, one
participant could not attend.
Below is the schedule the participants followed:

       June 5 Participate in Webinar. Join the Wiki and learn how to use it.
       June 6-12 Socialize in the Wiki's lounge. Practice using the Wiki by keeping in touch with
       others in the Lounge. Remember to upload your picture so we can add a name to a face.
       June 12 Begin Round 1. You have until Monday June 16 to respond to the triggering
       June 16 Begin Round 2. You will receive every ones responses in a table. Round 2
       requires you to look at the table and use the Wiki to ask questions of clarification. You
       have until Thursday June 19 at 5:00 p.m. to ask for the clarifications.
       June 20 Begin Round 3. You will receive all of the responses again, but this time they will
       be organized into clusters so they are easier to digest. You will have until 2 days to
       suggest changes in the clusters.
       June 22 Begin Round 4. You receive the amended clusters and everyone will be asked
       to vote on the top 5 statements.
       June 26 will be our 3 hour face to face co-laboratory where we construct an influence
       map that will guide you in designing a collaborative action plan.

Application of the Process
Round 1- Answering the Triggering Question
The methodology used for the stakeholders required that their dialogue is
focused on a central theme, which is captured by framing a “triggering question.”
The triggering question plays an important role in the process by focusing the
participants to address one particular issue. Each participant had 5 days to
contribute a requested set of single-sentence, single-idea statements in response
to the triggering question:

"What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

They entered their responses as statements, and they added explanations of the
meanings of their statements online using a customized Wiki for virtual SDDP.
During those five days they generated 35 statements (“factors”) that they felt
contributed to the drop out rate in their school district. These factors were
entered into the Cogniscope II software to create a list of the 35 factors (see
Table 2). The table includes the first name of the author of each factor and the
brief explanation of the factor as offered by the author.

Contributing Factors for Drop out rate in Evart Gayle Underwood                                 3
Round 2-Requesting Clarification
Because of the importance for all of the participants to understand all of the
statements that were generated in Round 1, Round 2 required the stakeholders
to study all of the statements and, where confusion may exist, to pose questions
for clarification of meaning from the authors of specific statements.

Participants were required to follow this strict rule of engagement: The questions
for clarification posed to other authors/stakeholders should not include any "value
judgments" about the merits or demerits of any statement. Only questions for
clarification of the author's meaning are permitted at this stage of the group work.
Furthermore, only the authors have the authority to clarify the meaning of their
own statements. This stricture avoids confusion which can easily result from
“group authoring.”

The conversations on the Wiki were transferred into the Cogniscope II software
which extended Table 2 to include any added clarifications. Table 2 can be
found in Appendix A of this document and on Evart’s Wiki

Round 3-Amend Clusters
Following Round 2, the KMT organized all of the statements into proxy groups or
clusters, based upon the interpretation of the meanings of stakeholder
statements. Cogniscope II software aids in the construction of clusters. Figure 1
shows 35 factors organized into six clusters.

Because the KMT must not make decisions on behalf of any set of stakeholders,
the clusters shown in Figure 1 were presented to participants for discussion and
revision using the Wiki. As a result of these online deliberations, the clusters
were amended and clusters were named as shown in Figure 1.

                                                         Figure 1
Cluster 1:      Cluster 2:               Cluster 3:                  Cluster 4:             Cluster 5:      Cluster 6:
Environment     Social                   Academic                    Negative               Family          Student
5: Drugs &      2: Lack social skills    Challenges                  Parental               History         Attitude
alcohol         10: Can’t Cope           3: Lack academic            influences             16: Family      6: Quick
8: Moving &     Socially                 skills, maybe as a          1: Lack of parental    Education       success
Moving &        14: Fitting in           result of a disability or   guidance & support     History         9: Lacks
Moving          35: Lack of              absences                    12: Parent             28:             Relevance
17: Job         connection to            4: Merit Curriculum         expectation            Generational    13: The bigger
Opportunity     kids/school/activities   7: Exponential factors      20: Parents &          poverty         picture
18: Economic                             11: They Get Behind         Students lack vision   32: Family HX   21: School as a
Background                               15: Curriculum              for future             of Dropouts     concept isn't a
19: Local                                presentation                22: Moving and                         good fit)
culture                                  30: Learning style          grooving                               25: instant
23:                                      options                     24: Lack of support                    gratification
Dependence on                            31: Learning                                                       26: Can't see
the system                               Disabilities                                                       the 'finish line'
29: Teen                                                                                                    27: Student
parenthood                                                                                                  apathy
33: Poverty                                                                                                 34: Lack of

Contributing Factors for Drop out rate in Evart Gayle Underwood                                                            4

Round 4-Vote
After studying the statements and reflecting on their meanings, all participants
used the Wiki’s discussion tab to identify five statements that in their individual
judgment were relatively more important in the context of the triggering question.
Six stakeholders completed this round online, and the remaining stakeholders
continued this voting process during a subsequent three hour face-to-face
meeting. The results of the ranking on an individual and subjective basis were
recorded using the Cogniscope II software to produce Table 3. Eleven of 35
factors emerged as being relatively more important to the group, indicating a
convergence (or “learning”) as a result of the Wiki and the face-to-face dialogues.
The four statements chosen most consistently by the participants are:



       FACTOR 10: CAN’T COPE SOCIALLY (Marci).

       FACTOR 11: THEY GET BEHIND (Marci)

Round 5-Root Cause Mapping
During the synchronous face-to-face meeting that took place at the elementary
school in Evart on June 26, 2008, the stakeholders experienced the power of the
Cogniscope II software in guiding group decision making. The group was
presented with statements that required their judgment about the relationships
among the factor two at a time. The factors were projected on a screen in their
media center. The KMT team provided the group with resources to support their
decision making, including records of statements and clarifications necessary for
factors contributed by one absent stakeholder.

The Cogniscope II software prompted stakeholders with statements based on
comparing two factors at a time while the lead facilitator asked them to make the
following judgment: “If we were to make significant progress with factor X
would it help in making progress on factor Y?” This allowed the relationship
of enhancement to be rapidly and thoroughly explored among all 11 factors that
emerged as of higher importance in Round 4.

The software generated a Root Cause map (Figure 2), that shows distinctions
between factors that exert strong leverage, appearing at the roots of the
relational tree (map), and factors that are less influential, appearing at the

Contributing Factors for Drop out rate in Evart Gayle Underwood                     5
branches of the tree. Drawing these distinctions among important factors is
critical in the design of a solution to the Drop Out issue. Without diagnosing the
roots of the issue, the stakeholders run the risk of allocating resources to the
symptoms and not the causes of the problem.

Summary of the Root Cause Map (Figure 2)
The map should be thought of as a tree and be read from the bottom up to
describe influence; the arrows tell the story. Factors in Level 1 do not have any
arrows originating from them so they do not have any leverage on the other
factors. Factors deeper in the tree, towards the bottom have more leverage and
influence on other factors. When an arrow connects two factors it implies that
the factor at the beginning of the arrow will enhance the capacity to address the
other factor at the end of the arrow.

                                     Figure 2

In the view of the eleven administrators and educational staff members at Evart
Public Schools discovered the most influential barriers that they need to
addressed (at the bottom of the tree) are the challenge of the “cycle” of factors
that includes Local Culture, Lack of Parental Guidance and Support, Parents and
Students Lacking vision for the future, and then also a “cycle” of factors including
Learning Style Options and Curriculum Presentation. The stakeholder analysis
states that by addressing these deep barriers Evart Schools will improve its
prospects for reducing the drop out rate.

Contributing Factors for Drop out rate in Evart Gayle Underwood                      6
Addressing some barriers will help the schools address other barriers. For
example, addressing the deep barriers of the local culture, the lack of parental
guidance, support, and vision for the future will also help the school address
barriers of students not seeing the relevance of school and then subsequently
the barrier of getting behind in studies.

Another way of helping students who find that school lacks relevance is by
addressing the other 2 deep barriers: the way the curriculum is presented to
students and the different learning styles of students who drop out.

Addressing the issues of students not being able to cope socially and the lack of
connection to kids/school/activities will help address students getting behind and
the historic lack of education in families. Evart must also face the historic lack of
education , which is also influenced by the generational poverty.

Learning style options is one of five factors judged to be highly important which
impacts relevance.

The Root Cause Map completes the diagnostic phase of the group work. The
Map becomes the foundation for the stakeholders engaging in another
disciplined dialogue for designing a collaborative action plan for identifying
options for dealing with the Drop Out rate situation confronting the Evart
community and for constructing preferred options into strategic action plans.

Results and Conclusions for Evart School District
The mixed-presence disciplined dialogue that took place using a Wiki and face to
face dialogue in the Evart community enabled the participants to discover the
root causes of the issue of Drop Out for the Evart school district. The
stakeholders were also able to recognize the complexity and multi-dimensionality
of the problem situation confronting the Evart community.

All of the participants reported that they had no experience using a Wiki prior to
this project. They were familiar with using email to communicate with each other
and half of them had participated in a Webinar in the past. The one-hour
Webinar on how to use the Wiki appeared to be sufficient to get them up to
speed on how to use a Wiki. The only suggestions/corrections given while
participants collaborate online were regarding the disciplined process, not the
actual use of the Wiki technology. For example, participants were reminded
during Round 2 to not make judgments or comments but just ask questions for

When using the Wiki, participants typed comments and questions into online
dialogues as they learned from each other about their individual perceptions of
the factors contributing to the drop out rate. Although a schedule was followed,
the flexibility of the Wiki allowed everyone to contribute while they were in their

Contributing Factors for Drop out rate in Evart Gayle Underwood                       7
own place at their own time.

Participants reported that some of their entries on the Wiki were completed while
they sat in their living room with children playing near by, other entries occurred
while team members were at a conference or on a vacation. The Wiki was their
common ground where they met online to discuss their issue at stake-their drop
out rate.

While meeting face-to-face for disciplined dialogue is a preference, all of the
participants agreed that having Rounds 1-4 completed virtually saved time and
was a convenient way for their group of stakeholders to actively participate with
their busy schedules. One participant stated “I liked that it gave everyone a voice
and the over-achiever could not dominate the “conversation.”

After time for reflection one participant stated that she would have liked more
information about the SDD process before using the Wiki to enter her
statements. “…the entire process should be explained up front…then people
know what they are doing and why they are doing it. Just an objective for each
part would have helped me and maybe helped others to stay on track.” Future
Webinars will include more time going over the process and the role of the
facilitators in ensuring fidelity of the disciplined dialogue.

One particularly interesting finding of this current stakeholder analysis is that
while Family Education History is consistently felt to be a highly important factor
in drop-put rates, the education history of the family was not identified as a
significant factor influencing Getting Behind in studies. The implication of this
finding is that the combined yet distinct factors of Family Education History and
Getting Behind may jointly contribute to drop out through distinct social

Although the Map provides important information regarding the root causes of the
Drop Out Rate in Evart, it does not imply that every community will come up with
the same results or that they should use this Map to apply it to their own
circumstances. Important stakeholders such as community members and
students who have dropped out and/or are at risk for dropping out as well as
parents and anyone else involved in the drop out rate should be included in any
structured dialogic design process on this issue.

The next step for the Evart Public School District is to continue their group work,
adding appropriate stakeholders as mentioned above, and design a collaborative
action plan for addressing the root causes that were discovered during this

The reader is encouraged to view
to see how the project unfolded for the participants. The Final Report Summary

Contributing Factors for Drop out rate in Evart Gayle Underwood                       8
of the Results which includes more details is also posted in the Wiki for those
interested to learn more about this case.

Contributing Factors for Drop out rate in Evart Gayle Underwood                   9
Table 2                                    Augmented List of Factors with Clarification-6-23-08
Triggering Question: "What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

Factor 1: Lack of parental guidance & support (Alecia)

Parents haven't positively disciplined children nor set behavior limits. Children who 'raise themselves' often lack self-discipline to do things
that need to get done, such as school related homework and developing study skills. Often such children are raised with verbal abuse that
leads to low self-esteem.
(Sue) Are you saying that we can't positively impact due to the negative impact that is already in place?
(Alecia) Oh, never. It may be difficult, but change is always possible

Factor 2: Lack social skills (Alecia)
Students who drop out of high school are often students who are lacking social skills. They don't relate well to others, peers or faculty; they
don't have a clue how to fit in or get what they need in the school setting. They feel that they don't belong.
(Sue) I wondering if you feel there is a connection here with the lack of "hidden rules" from the Ruby Payne studies?
(Sue) I was just talking on the phone with a 7th grade student who is probably going to BE a drop out if we don't figure out what she needs
pretty soon. One of the big things she told me really gets in her way is that she gets in trouble so much ... becuae she does not know how
to respond to people when they are mean to her or when they treat her in ways that she doesn't understand. (She lacks the social skills
needed to respond appropriately). She also blames those kids for her academic failures. Interesting - but not uncommon among those kids
who are really disenfranchized from their peers.
(Alecia) I haven't read about the "hidden rules", but it sounds relevant. I'm wondering if peer to peer support would help with
disenfranchized students, much the way the peer to peer support program works with autistic children.

Factor 3: Lack academic skills, maybe as a result of a disability or absences (Alecia)
Many drop-out students are students who repeatedly fail classes; this may be due to low cognitive ability, a learning disability, or a plethora
of other factors which impair the students ability to learn. Academic failure can also be due to excessive absences.
(Sue) What advice would be helpful to a student who feels he is in a place that he can't escape from?
(Alecia) Brother, SL, you ask loaded questions. Reality talk. This is the way it is. This is what needs to be done. How can I help? What
steps can you take? What do you do next? Who'll be your accountability partner? Follow-up, follow-through, and prayer.

Factor 4: Merit Curriculum (Alecia)
Students feel that they aren't making it. They may lack credits and see no viable way to gain the credits that they need. They feel like they
are failures and incapable of the work. They are overwhelmed and give up. This is very scarey. One way to avoid emotional pain is to
escape; dropping out can ease this pain.
(Alan) Do you think that the rigor of the Michigan Merit Curiiculum is the issue or the way the curriculum is being delivered?
(Sue) Would it be possible that this might be do also to a lack of guidance toward possibilities in the first place by
counselors/parents/teachers, etc?
(Alecia) May-be to both. For greatest impact, changes of expectations with students have to begin at the lowest grade levels. We're doing
a lot of right things at Evart. We're working towards including ALL students to be successful readers. Next will be math. Over time, these
pushes will raise expectations and performance in students who have attended Evart or other proactive schools.
I believe positive expectations will grow and eventually gain critical mass. (Hopefully)

Factor 5: Drugs & alcohol (Alecia)
Escapism and hedonism. Once they get involved in this tangent, it's difficult to reel them back.
(Sue) Wow! I agree!! The big question is then how do we recognize the signs of a student that may be headed in the direction of drug &
alchol user and how do we respond to it when we see the signs?
(Carol B) this is a tricky issue. If we begin to suspect substance abuse, how does the school best help the student? I am thinking about
instances where the family will be an obstacle--either denying the problem, or in fact being the place where the child is learning the
(Alecia) It's obviously a complicated, multi-faceted issue to address. I know that feeling a connection and safety can make a difference.

Factor 6: Quick success (Alecia)
                     Generated by the participants at the Drop out rate for Evart on June 5-June 26 2008, at Evart
                     Prepared by GAYLE UNDERWOOD                      [DELETE] = Idea was deleted or merged with another Idea   CogniScope 2 Software:
Table 2                                    Augmented List of Factors with Clarification-6-23-08
Triggering Question: "What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

Some students want to work full-time. This may be due to immediate gratification, parent expectations, and/or low self-expectations. My
parents made it without a diploma, so can I.
(Jim) Is there a survival component here?
(Sue) Is there a competancy factor here? Three basic human needs are the need to be challenged, the need to belong and the need to feel
compentant. What do you think? Is it about working or about being able to do something well?
(Alecia) Could be to both questions, in some situations. Students who drop out to work must have an interesting set of needs and guiding

Factor 7: Exponential factors (Alecia)
Often there are many factors that seem to cause exponential circumstances. Maybe Nancy becomes pregnant, she then misses several
days due to ill health, she begins to fail classes, students stigmatize her; this may result in leaving school for "a while", which often
equates into forever. Or, Joe has a disability in reading, he doesn't understand the assignment, he also doesn't know how to self-advocate,
so he just ignores the homework; over time, he is failing and gives up, he's not cut out for school.
Q (Sue) Are these both really self-advocating issues? In the case of Nancy and Joe would the abibility to self-advocate make a substantial
Q (Jason) What types of scaffolding could schools put in place for students with these types of issues/circumstances? Many interventions
exist in order to help address the issue of Nancy and Joe. What more could be done?
(Sue) That's a deep question Jason because the ability to have self-knowledge enough to self-advocate is a very high-level ability and one
that, if ever taught, is taught by example.
Could you give an example of what interventions you feel we already have in place for the example of Nancy?
It seems most of our interventions in these areas are reactionary rather than being proactive.
(Alecia) Self-advocacy is a biggie. In order to self-advocate, one has to feel hopefulness. Getting caught in the "catch 22" leaves one
feeling hopeless. I know there are programs out there to teach self-advocacy.

Factor 8: Moving & Moving & Moving (Alecia)
Some students are moved several times during a school year due to parent instability. This can't be good for building academic success.
This in turn becomes a building block for future failure.
(Sue) What about those families who move all the time - every couple years at least - and whose children do fairly well in school? I'm
thinking military, clergy, management positions, etc.
(Alecia) True. Most students who move probably do survive the changes successfully. I'm talking about the students who drop out due to
familial instability. For one reason or another, the student isn't able to compensate and adapt to the continual changes. They fall behind,
don't know how to re-engage in the current situation, and "poof", they're gone.

Factor 9: Lacks Relevance (Marci)
Students who drop out see no relevance in what they are learning. Students wonder why they have to learn this or that... To quote a
student, “How will literature help me flip burgers? Fix a car? Work on a line?”
(Sue) Do we need to work on how best to answer questions like that? Is it possible that if we knew better how to respond to those
questions (because they are certainly good, relevant questions) we could help some students make different choices?
(Marci) I think teachers can have the best answers for those type of questions and still run into roadblocks. I think it ties into the other
topics being discussed here. One size education does not fit all...
(Alecia) Possibly we're not citing the relevance the lesson has to daily livng as we introduce the lesson; perhaps we more thoroughly need
to connect the lesson with background info.

Factor 10: Can’t Cope Socially (Marci)
So many kids can’t handle their peers or their teachers socially. They are expected to follow rules that often don’t apply to every student or
teacher. They see school as a place they will never “win” or fit in. It’s easier to just quit.
(Jim) Are these kids totally disconnected from "school society" as in disenfranchised? or do they just lack social skills.
(Sue) Imagine how dibilitating it must be to "never win"! Do you feel that is a perception on the part of the student? Or are you referring
nicely to inequity from adult to students?
                     Generated by the participants at the Drop out rate for Evart on June 5-June 26 2008, at Evart
                     Prepared by GAYLE UNDERWOOD                      [DELETE] = Idea was deleted or merged with another Idea   CogniScope 2 Software:
Table 2                                    Augmented List of Factors with Clarification-6-23-08
Triggering Question: "What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

(Carol) Marci- I agree with you. Some students just don't get the social norms of school, from both teachers and students. I get the sense
that some would like to fit in, but don't know how. Others don't want to fit in at all and define themselves by being different.
(Sue) Don't you think that even if students appear to not want to fit in, they still have a basic "need to belong" to something? I agree with
you Carol that some kids just don't know how. I just gave a respond to Alicia with an example from just this morning about a student who
talked with me at length about wishing she knew how to fit in. On the outside however, she presents as a student who is just a big bully
who likes to break all the rules
(Marci) I think it is a little of all of your responses/ questions. A disenfranchised student who isn't successful has to learn rules and social
norms not just for school, but for every class he/she is in. What may be ok with one teacher will not be acceptable to another. The social
environment will change with the mix and amount of students. These environments will change from day to day. Then add in whatever
their home environment is to the mix. For a student who has a hard time, I can imagine that this type social interaction and change would
be extremely difficult to adapt to, leading to a student who can't cope socially.
(Alecia) wonder, instead of teaching students to fit in various environments, often unsuccessfully, maybe we should be teaching students
to look for consistent, visible clues in the environment.

Factor 11: They Get Behind (Marci)
Students will move, become ill, get suspended, or skip (or disappear for some reason) and fall desperately behind. Failure builds
momentum - never being able to catch up leads to frustration, frustration leads to social problems, social problems lead to not caring, and
so on. Students may see school as something they will never be able to achieve - so why bother?
(Sue) When students feel this way, do they typically talk with someone about it? If so, is it an adult in the education world?

Factor 12: Parent expectation (Deanna)
Many kids may drop out of school because their parents have not set the expectation to succeed and graduate from high school. If the
expectation to do well in school is not embedded as something that is necessary and is instead seen as an option kids will be more likely
to see graduating as unimportant.
(Sue) Do you see this as a generational problem in the Evart area? If so, would understanding some of the reasons behind the choices
help us?
(Deanna) Definitely a generational problem. Low expectations are just a symptom. Hopefully we're hitting on the underlying reasons.

Factor 13: The bigger picture (Deanna)
This is an obvious one, but important I think...Kids who drop out don't see the value in their diploma. They think they can make it working
here or there for a very minimal wage and/or use the system to support them. They don't see the big picture or the possibilities that are out
there for ANYONE willing to try.
(Sue) Our students have talked about needing to see examples of people who have "made it" despite the odds. Is that what you mean by
seeing the "value" in the diploma? Do you mean they don't see the value in the "effort" it takes to get the diploma?
(Deanna) I was thinking that maybe kids don't think they need a diploma to get a job that is "good enough" for them.
Also, does our small rural community limit what some of our kids see as realistic possibilites for them in the future? (higher education,
technical training, etc.) If a high school diploma seems out of reach or not worth it, these things must seem impossible. Do they think they
are destined the life/situation they are in?
(Sue) No. I do not think they are destined the life/situation they are in - however they need a lot of other influences in their lifes in order to
see their own possibilities in the world - to be able to see what is out there and how one prepares to make those things a possiblity. Really
tough stuff!

Factor 14: Fitting in (Deanna)
Many kids who drop out probably don't feel they belong in school. They may lack connections with peers and teachers and probably have
difficulty with school rules and academics. Their circle of friends is limited or plays a negative role. Kids who struggle socially,
academically, behaviorally, very early on begin wondering, "Why am I here?"
(Sue) You teach very young students. Does this inability to fit in show up as young as kindergarten and first grade?
(Carol) I see it in students that young. They can see it too...the little groups form...I bet I could guess which elementary students are very
likely to drop out right now...
                     Generated by the participants at the Drop out rate for Evart on June 5-June 26 2008, at Evart
                     Prepared by GAYLE UNDERWOOD                      [DELETE] = Idea was deleted or merged with another Idea   CogniScope 2 Software:
Table 2                                    Augmented List of Factors with Clarification-6-23-08
Triggering Question: "What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

factors include: family support/structure, attitude towards school, ability to learn, ability to make friends and get along socially.
(Sue) I thought that is what you would say. Sometimes you can even see it in their eyes in their school pictures. How sad. What do we do?
Well, I guess by the end of this we hope to have a glimps at an answer.
(Deanna) YES, we can see it that young! What Carol said is exactly true. Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for kids to figure out where
they stand academically and socially in a classroom. It's amazing to watch so many young kids grow and prosper in kindergarten because
they have the capabilities and support to do so...Then you have the kids who just can't seem to "make it" despite our interventions. Their
behavior is usually a huge issue and they struggle with meeting grade level expectations. Kids are very perceptive and they know where
they fit--or don't fit.
(Carol) Sorry Deanna didn't mean to answer for you...just couldn't resist. It is wierd how this happens so young...and I agree the behaviors
are bizzaro sometimes...
(Sue) At the elementary age, how do we address the little ones who already know they fit in socially?

Factor 15: Curriculum presentation (Marilyn)
Evart students drop out because curriculum material is presented in a way that does not engage them
(Carol) Could you expand on this for me? As a whole, subgroups, learning styles, use of technology, differentiation...? help. thanks :)
(Alan) Could you clarify what you mean by engage? Do you think that Lessons can be very interesting, extremely fun, yet lack any
relevance or understanding?
(Sue) How is the material being presented? Is it being presented in one certain way routinely?
(Jason) Hello, Marilyn! How would one clearly identify if a student is truly engaged with the material that is being presented? Given a wide
variety of learning styles and personalities, what methods of instruction might cause students to "disengage" from the subject matter?
(Marilyn) My idea is that one reason students drop out is that curriculum material is not presented in a way they learn best. Students who
are not able to get the content, cannot engage with it (work with, use, generalize). If they cannot engage with it, maybe it makes sense to
them to drop out. I think it is on the shoulders of the teachers to consider their current presentation methods and to implement changes
that connect with today’s students. This will mean options or variety…various ways to present curriculum material, how students receive
interact with that material and how the students use it. It could mean the use of technology, learning groups, different formats of text, and
options for showing that the students understand the material and more.
(Carol) I think your original post and your follow up are right on. Today's students learn differently.
(Alecia) Another reason to support differentiated instruction in the learning environment

Factor 16: Family Education History (Jason)
One possible factor that may impact our dropout rate is the education background of immediate family members. If those in my family did
not finish the course of their education experience, then those around them may develop some type of feeling that this could be an option
for them as well.
(Sue) I wonder what the reasons were in the first place that there was a family history of non-graduates?
(Jason) The saying "it only takes a spark to get a fire going" may hold true in some families. I think in some cases that there is a
generational influence placed upon others, while I think that circumstances may cause a "break" in how a family's history has influenced
their continuing and finishing their education.

Factor 17: Job Opportunity (Jason)
It used to be that you could get a job without a high school diploma, but now the opportunities for finding employment without finishing
school are becoming less and less. However, for those that have the opportunity to work and find a "decent" wage, they may pursue this
instead of completing their education.
(Jim) how do you square that with your other comment about family history? You'd think that growing up in a family of poverty would teach
the student that the old way does not work any more.
(Aleco) Jim: This is a comment which is fine as long as it is not meant to be argumentative with the contibution of this author.
(Jim) Good point Aleco. I was trying to reconcile in my mind how the two statements came together or not. Not argumentative just
(Aleco) Thank you very much Jim for taking the time to clarify why you were asking the question. In a face to face discussion for
clarification you could have clarifid it immediately, but in the virtual interaction it is a bit more cumbersome.
                     Generated by the participants at the Drop out rate for Evart on June 5-June 26 2008, at Evart
                     Prepared by GAYLE UNDERWOOD                      [DELETE] = Idea was deleted or merged with another Idea   CogniScope 2 Software:
Table 2                                    Augmented List of Factors with Clarification-6-23-08
Triggering Question: "What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

(Sue) Do you think that is related to what we know about poverty and the need to provide or be seen as a cabable provider within the
family unit -- and the factor of living in the "now" rather than planning for the future?
(Jason) For Jim:
I can understand the confusion between the two statements. To clarify, each family unit has it's own set of norms and values. This occurs
in every family and within every economic class. Depending upon each families view of education, an individual from that value system
may be more inclined to go along with that line of thought. I use the word "may" because individuals develop their own norms/values that
may or may not coincide with those of their background. Hope this helps!
For Sue:
I definitely see this as a way to be the provider for the family and living for the moment. If you are always struggling, you never know about
tomorrow, so why not live for today? In this case of providing for one's family unit, how can we as educators embrace those that are
considering dropping out and convince them that by staying the course, they will be able to provide much more for those in their care?
(Sue) That is the ongoing question isn't it? It is a big struggle. So many of our parents really want their children to have life easy. One of
my biggest challenges as a middle school and high school counselor was convincing parents that the senior year should be challenging
rather than the "fun year". If kids don't see examples around them, it's difficult for them to believe that the challenges of learning a foreign
language or the concepts in a higher level algebra class actually help create the discipline and cognitive structures that will also help them
when they are running their own construction business and competing with others for business on a large scale.

Factor 18: Economic Background (Jason)
For those from lower economic backgrounds, it may become easier to simply "give up" and quit school, living on some type of government
assistance. This can be a stereotype attached to the poverty type of economic class, but is not necessarily the norm.
(Carol) agree, but what is the attitude or "hidden norm" of those from generational poverty toward education as a whole?
(Jason) In some cases, the education system is seen as an institution that will merely cause them anger and dispair. Some families may
have individuals who were treated poorly by both students and staff and came away with a feeling of animosity towards the school system.
On the other hand, there are families that see education as "the way out" and therefore they emphasize that it should be a priority even
though they may be somewhat discriminated against. The Ruby Payne material provides deeper understanding of families from poverty
and how they interpret education systems. I myself came from poverty and our family saw the benefit side to education as a way to forge a
new path for the future.

Factor 19: Local culture (Jim)
I would suspect that in a rural area such as Evart there is a significant population of people that do not support or see the value in
completing high school
(Carol) agree that many do not see the value. I do believe most families are supportive--they just don't see the relevance.
(Aleco) Remember that the discussion for clarification of the menaing of the contributions will start with Round Two which will begin today
when you receive an e-mail with the list of ideas as Table 1.
(Sue) Is that due to the fact that Evart is a rural community or that there is a high level of poverty?
(Jim) think it is all of the above. In previous generations Evart was an agricultural center that was not necessarily focused on high school
education you did not need it to work on the farm.Then it became a one factory town with easy to get jobs, again not needing 4 years of
High school. Now with the downsizing of the one factory you have an accumulation of undereducated people who are stuck in the poverty
cycle. In some ways it looks generational.
(Sue) Boy, we sure are seeing a lot about generational poverty in these posts! Thanks for the updated clarification

Factor 20: Parents & Students lack vision for future (Alecia)
Parents don't have school success expectations for students; as a result, students have never developed a vision for themselves. Parents
and students more or less accept what comes their way; they don't feel empowered. Parents who have raised successful students have
perpetually discussed their expectations for their children, ie. "What are you going to be when you grow up?", "When you go to college..."
(Alan) Are you using vision synonymously with goals. Do you think that most parents want their children to do well? And in many cases,
have a better lifestyle than their own?
(Sue) I think most parents do want their kids to do well. I don't think people wake up in the morning and say, "I sure hope my kid screws up
                     Generated by the participants at the Drop out rate for Evart on June 5-June 26 2008, at Evart
                     Prepared by GAYLE UNDERWOOD                      [DELETE] = Idea was deleted or merged with another Idea   CogniScope 2 Software:
Table 2                                    Augmented List of Factors with Clarification-6-23-08
Triggering Question: "What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

(Alecia) Yes, Al and Sue. Good point. That was a pretty generalized statement. I think parents want the best for their children; however, for
some of our student population, parents don't know how to achieve this desire; it's nebulous, not fixed. Therefore it isn't a vision or
expectation. This sub-group of parents may want the best, but they don't know how to actualize or visualize this expectation of the best for
their child/children.
(Sue) So then, how do we support parents so that they can, in turn, provide the type of support that would benefit the students
(Alecia) Good question. It has to be an intrinsic parental decision.

Factor 21: School as a concept isn't a good fit (Carol)

The work is too hard, not at the right time, structure is different than home, rules too tough to is just easier to drop out
(Sue) Is there one of those components versus another that might be worth taking a closer look at?
(Carol) If I had to choose, I see the structure of school being the component I'd like to look at...this fits in with the poverty things (hidden
rules), lack of rules and routines at home, teaching styles/delivery of the curriculum has not changed despite the fact that the students
today are visual learners...which are all things discussed in other posts...

Factor 22: Moving and grooving (Carol)
I feel that the families that move over and over affect the dropout rate.
(Sue) Is the reason for the move relevant to the academic outcome for students? Are you speaking about moving & grooving within their
own community & staying in the same school or moving & grooving across larger boarders?
(Carol) the moving I was referring to was when a student moves to multiple schools within the same school year...students are always
playing catch up, repeat parts of the curriculum/miss others totally...gaps form...are disconnected to school, they never really stay
somewhere long enough to feel like they belong...
I see kids come and go several times in one school year...this has to have an efect on their learning and attitude toward school...I wish this
qualified as a form of educational neglect because in my opinion that is what it is...

Factor 23: Dependence on the system (Carol)

I feel that some families depend on support income from the government and there are no good reasons in their minds to graduate
because they have a steady income available without any work involved.
(Sue) Is this a nice way of saying people are lazy or are you referring to them actually thinking it is smarter to make the choice that
involves the least amount of effort with the greatest gain? Do these families feel that working hard is a bad thing because all that hard
work won't get them anywhere anyway?
(Carol) I have witnessed myself students who choose to remain on assistance and not work because in their minds it is easier. Is this a
"nice way" to call them lazy? I guess that thought never entered my mind. To them it is the choice or what has always been done in their
families...generational assistance...the only/best way they know.
(Sue) Thanks for the clarification. I agree that there probably isn't any other thought than "this is how things are done" the same way
someone else may think that going to college is just "the thing that everyone does after high school."
(Carol) I wonder what would happen if "the system" stopped handing out money???
(Sue) things that make you go "Mmmmmm"! Are you talking about letting people suffer natural consequences in life?
(Carol) suffer natural consequences???
no, I just wonder how many would suddenly be able to work???
(Alecia) Boy, this is the truth. I guess that LD students no longer qualify for support.

Factor 24: Lack of support (Carol)
I feel there is a lack of support for education from certain families
                     Generated by the participants at the Drop out rate for Evart on June 5-June 26 2008, at Evart
                     Prepared by GAYLE UNDERWOOD                      [DELETE] = Idea was deleted or merged with another Idea   CogniScope 2 Software:
Table 2                                    Augmented List of Factors with Clarification-6-23-08
Triggering Question: "What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

(Marci) Carol, I agree with your post. But, from a parental stand, have you ever found it difficult to get information about your child's
progress? I know I have, and I support education. I often wonder about how hard it would be if I wasn't in education.
(Carol) To clarify my certain situations, for instance a meeting with parents to discuss behavior problems that their student is
having, the parents feel that is is the school's problem and that they do not support any efforts to help the child or even admit that there is a
problem in the first place. Another example would be when we notice that a student is having a hard time learning letters so a home kit is
sent after the parent agrees to do it and time and time again it comes back not done.
I was talking about a lack of support after repeated contacts, not just a general lack of support.
p.s. yes as a parent I get frustrated for me has come with negatives only...and I have never had an answer to my questions
written in planners...

Factor 25: instant gratification (Carol B.)
We live in a time of instant gratification. School does not fit with this.... So, some of our students drop out of school to work in the "real
world" for what they see as a terrific wage.
(Jim) Is there a survival need at work here we do not see?
(Carol B) I think that 12 weeks (trimester) is too long for some students to commit. They start out fine, but as the weeks go by, they
withdraw-skip school, don't turn work in, etc. They don't earn credit until the 12 weeks is completed. If they could see progress or
accomplishment sooner, it might be better for them.
(Sue) Do you think there is a link to the Ruby Payne information we gained about poverty?
(Carol B) perhaps in some cases there is a link to poverty. I also see this in students from all economic situations. Our society wants
things to be quick--why is basketball becoming more popular than good old American baseball?? We are not patient, we want it now.
Some students feel that way about school.
(Sue) Wow! Good question about basketball versus baseball. I hadn't thought about it like that! I know lots of kids who don't even want to
learn their locker combination because then they have to take the time to open it!!! They would rather take the chance that their stuff get
stolen.......because it's also so easy to replace it?

Factor 26: Can't see the 'finish line' (Carol B.)

"four years of high school??" "when will I ever finish?" "You mean I have to earn 27 credits and I only have six??"

Factor 27: Student apathy (Carol B.)
Many students feel excluded, or somehow different from others. School has no relevance for them, they don't see their part in the whole
(Jim) are they really appathetic or are they disenfranchised?
(Carol B) yes, maybe disenfranchised might be more what I meant. Students display apathy--sense of indifference toward school--perhaps
it is the way they present themselves to us . I go back and forth on this concept: is it that they really don't care, or is this the defense/shield
they display when they don't fit in??
(Aleco) In my role as a KMT member with the responsibility to be the lead facilitator at our face to face meeting on June 26, I am not
supposed to make any contributions in terms of the content of the dialogue. Only you the stakeholders posess the relevant knowledge.
However, the "student apathy" factor brings to mind some reent reflection on education from a very prominent systems thinker named
Russ Ackoff, whom I quote below:

Russell Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg Education should be a lifelong enterprise, a process enhanced by an environment that supports to
the greatest extent possible the attempt of people to “find themselves” throughout their lives.

For too long, we have educated people for a world that no longer exists, extinguishing their creativity and instilling values antithetical to
those of a free, 21st century democracy. The principal objective of education as currently provided is to ensure the maintenance and
preservation of the status quo—to produce members of society who will not want to challenge any fundamental aspects of the way things
are. Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning. It incorrectly assumes that for every ounce of teaching, there is an ounce of
learning by those who are taught. Being taught is, to a very large extent, boring and much of its content is seen as irrelevant. It is the
                     Generated by the participants at the Drop out rate for Evart on June 5-June 26 2008, at Evart
                     Prepared by GAYLE UNDERWOOD                      [DELETE] = Idea was deleted or merged with another Idea   CogniScope 2 Software:
Table 2                                    Augmented List of Factors with Clarification-6-23-08
Triggering Question: "What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

teacher, not the student, who learns most in a traditional classroom.
(Sue) Have you done any reading on the psychological concept of "flow"? It has to do with the state of mind when a person is fully
immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus. Google it and let me know if you think there is a connection to the
"apathy" you're seeing in kids.
(Alan) Is it possible that what appears to be apathy (like failure to turn in work or chronic absences) is simply that school isn't a top priority
due to other issues that are more important at the time?
(Carol B) Aleco,
thank you for the link. This issue is very important to me, as I struggle to help the students in our alternative high school. The teachers are
teaching their hearts out and some of the students respond. Some, however, appear so indifferent that I can't help but wonder "why do
they show up here every day if they dislike it so much?". I know that they come because school is a safe place with routines and rules
where they feel safe and a sense of belonging. I also know that much of what we are attempting to teach them is boring and not relevant.
The pressure of NCLB, our Michigan Merit Curriculum, etc. is intense for teachers and students....
Sue: I will look into "flow" and get back with you. thanks!
Al: yes, it could be. our kids have so many issues to deal with! I think about my student last November who told me that he spent the night
before on the top of the playground slide where no one would see him. He couldn't go home because of step-dad. It got to 30 degrees that
night and he said he would get up and walk around to keep his legs from going numb. Why in the world would Algebra be important to

Factor 28: Generational poverty (Carol B.)
Public schools operate in hidden rules taken for granted by the middle class. Education is not seen as crucial to the families in poverty
(Sue) Can hidden rules be taught?
Carol B) I think we put our students at a disadvantage if we do not teach them the rules of the middle class. In the Ruby Payne work, we
learned that our ignorance of some of the rules of poverty leads us to interpret student behavior as disrespectful or combative when there
is none intended. Our kids need to learn how the middle class operates--not because it is "better", but because in order to be successful in
business, education, commerce etc., we need to the rules under which they operate. So it is imperative that we teach the rules to our
students .

Factor 29: Teen parenthood (Sue)
If a student has a baby before they graduate - all the added responsibilities of parenthood will get in the way of schooling.
(Carol) I agree with your post...but is leaves me with a few questions...
Where/what grade do our students learn about the birds and the bees?
Is there a gap in this type of education?
I know the elementary school does Michigan Model and what happens in health class in high school (sophomores typically), and that
Michelle typically did health one day a week at the middle school for 7th ane 8th graders, but that changed due to scheduling...
Is this something we need to take a serious look at? This was the reason 4-5 students dropped out last year...they were either the father or
the mother...
(Sue) Great clarifying questions! I know we really do have a gap in that area educationally.
Sometimes kids never really learn about the actual biological realities of the process of conception. It wasn't taught; It was taught but they
didn't learn. They sit through classes & they shut it right out because it's too embarrassing to even pay attention or they are so distracted
by the idea of it that their mind goes somewhere else. Who knows?
Regardless, I wonder also about the self-esteem, self-value feelings that may or may not precede the need to have a boyfriend or girlfriend
and then may lead to all the rest.
Are these kids lacking guidance in the first place?
Do they lack knowledge and understanding of their own skills or possibilities in the world and therefore end up taking the road that nature
intended rather than educators and other tax payers intended?

Factor 30: Learning style options (Jim)
Using a one size fits all pedagogy (neat word) may leave many students behind.
                     Generated by the participants at the Drop out rate for Evart on June 5-June 26 2008, at Evart
                     Prepared by GAYLE UNDERWOOD                      [DELETE] = Idea was deleted or merged with another Idea   CogniScope 2 Software:
Table 2                                    Augmented List of Factors with Clarification-6-23-08
Triggering Question: "What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

(Sue) What is the one style pedagogy that you feel teachers use the most?
(Jim) I guess I would start by looking at the typical teaching style at Middle school, how much differentiation of instruction is going on or is
it more focused standard lecture & test? I would make the same statement about high school. When we talk about how 'hands on' many of
our drop outs are do we offer them enough hands on experiences? At the elementary level are we looking at Visual vs Phonetic learners or
is there just one approach applied to all children?
(Sue) Thanks for the expansion. We have had what seems like lots of training on differentiating lessons and assessments - however it is
still an area with a lot of misunderstandings among the educators. But point well taken about the hands-on learners that we have and the
hands-on instruction that is seen all too frequently.

Factor 31: Learning Disabilities (Sue)
Often students with learning disabilities have not had their academic support needs met in school and therefore give up on us and on
(Marci) I agree Sue. I have had students in my class who cannot read (at the high school level.) I wonder how that student got to where
they are. Do you have any ideas on how to catch kids before they fall through the "cracks"?
(Sue) I believe the new response to intervention model at the elementary school is a step in the right direction with this - it allows us to
know more about the real needs individual students have.

Also I think as administrators we need to be sure we are supporting and giving timely feedback (formative assessment)to teachers about
instructional methods being used and whether or not those methods are reaching all students. I am also becoming more aware of the
varying comfort levels of teachers to communicate with parents and even with their colleagues about how to best support students. There
is an intimidation factor that is hughe and difficult to get around ... as a result, students' still don't get the support they need.
(Carol) What about the students with emotional disabilities??? This is the group of students who drop out the most...

Factor 32: Family HX of Dropouts (Sue)

If there are several people, or sometimes generations of people who have not graduated from high school, then a student may not
internalize the seriousness of graduating.

Factor 33: Poverty (Sue)
Generational poverty can influence drop out rates in many ways. One thing that comes to mind is the "us & them" mind set that often
prevails (with the school being "them"), therefore there is a wall up that makes communication difficult.
No one has responded - so I will respond myself. :)
I am referring here to the parents of the students who are or might be drop outs.
Sometimes the "us & them" mindset is easily understood when you realize the poor experiences our students' parents' had when they
were in school.

Factor 34: Lack of relevance (Jim)
I would think that many student do not see the relevance in required subjects to their futures.
(Marci) I posted a similar comment. Do you think that a greater scope of vocational classes, without age or grade requirements, would
help? What about those "personal curriculum's," could those be used to help students find relevance in school?
(Carol B) I think some kids would be very successful in a voc-ed route. The university route is certainly not best for everyone. My uncle
owns a company that designs filters. He told me last August, " I don't need any more executives, MBA's .. I need some G--D---- welders".
The trouble with the personal curriculum is that schools will be penalized if we grant too many of them. Oh, and also a big deal: the kids on
a personal curriculum might not earn a high school diploma--only a certificate of completion (whatever that'll do for ya')

Factor 35: Lack of connection to kids/school/activities (Sue)
Often students can't make or don't see the relevence of what they are learning in school and don't feel they fit in with other students or the
                     Generated by the participants at the Drop out rate for Evart on June 5-June 26 2008, at Evart
                     Prepared by GAYLE UNDERWOOD                      [DELETE] = Idea was deleted or merged with another Idea   CogniScope 2 Software:
Table 2                                    Augmented List of Factors with Clarification-6-23-08
Triggering Question: "What factors contribute to the drop out rate for students in our District?"

school as a whole.

                     Generated by the participants at the Drop out rate for Evart on June 5-June 26 2008, at Evart
                     Prepared by GAYLE UNDERWOOD                      [DELETE] = Idea was deleted or merged with another Idea   CogniScope 2 Software:

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