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Dropout Prevention


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The development of the Learning Supports Initiative was supported by the Iowa Collaboration for Youth Development Steering Committee, a National Advisory Panel, a Design Team, Stakeholder Group, and multiple work groups. The Learning Support Advisory Team is a statewide think tank that has been established to assist in providing guidance to the Department of Education to create an integrated system that supports all students in achieving success at school.

Dropout prevention and learning supports utilize the same framework to identify needs, analyze data, provide supports and evaluate current practice. Learning Supports is a system strategy that leads to increased graduation rates, one of the Learning Supports result areas. Dropout prevention interventions are school- and community-based initiatives that aim to keep students in school and encourage them to complete their high school education. Interventions and services, such as counseling, monitoring, school restructuring, curriculum redesign, and community services are provided to eliminate barriers so students may be successful academically, personally and in a career or vocation. Each district should focus their resources in outcomes in the following three domains:

  1. staying in school,
  2. progressing in school, and
  3. completing school.

Please refer to the following research based strategies that are provided to assist districts in planning programming to prevent dropping out of school or re-engaging those students who have or are considering dropping out cognitively, behaviorally or emotionally.

Contact Steve Crew for program-related questions.

Contact Tom Cooley for budget-related questions.


Iowa Code section 257.39 Definition of Potential and Returning Dropouts
1. "Returning dropouts" are resident pupils who have been enrolled in a public or nonpublic school in any of grades seven through twelve who withdrew from school for a reason other than transfer to another school or school district and who subsequently enrolled in a public school in the district.

2. "Potential dropouts" are resident pupils who are enrolled in a public or nonpublic school who demonstrate poor school adjustment as indicated by two or more of the following:
a. High rate of absenteeism, truancy, or frequent tardiness.
b. Limited or no extracurricular participation or lack of identification with school, including but not limited to, expressed feelings of not belonging.
c. Poor grades, including but not limited to, failing in one or more school subjects or grade levels.
d. Low achievement scores in reading or mathematics which reflect achievement at least two years or more below grade level.


Engaging and Re-engaging Students in Learning at School

Three Step Plan for Ending the Dropout Crisis in Your Community (see 20 Questions below)
There are three essential steps to ending the dropout crisis in our communities:

  • First, your community needs to understand its dropout crisis and the resources it is currently devoting to ending it.
  • Second, your community needs to develop a strategic dropout prevention, intervention and recovery plan that focuses community resources, efforts and reforms at the key points where and when students fall off the path to high school graduation.
  • Finally, your community will need to gather the human and financial resources needed for a comprehensive and sustained campaign and develop the evaluation, accountability and continuous improvement mechanisms needed to maintain it.

20 Questions to End the Dropout Crisis in Your Community

Definitions For Keys To Success for Dropout Prevention - The 21 Most Effective Dropout Prevention Strategies


IES Practice Guide for Dropout Prevention (September 2008)
This guide is intended to be useful to educators in high schools and middle schools, to superintendents and school boards, and to state policymakers in planning and executing dropout prevention strategies. The target audience includes school administrators as well as district-level administrators. This guide seeks to help them develop practice and policy alternatives for implementation. The guide includes specific recommendations and indicates the quality of the evidence that supports these recommendations. (72 pages)

Dropout Risk Factors and Exemplary Programs-Technical Report (May 2007)
Communities In Schools (CIS) is the nation’s fifth-largest youth-serving organization and the leading dropout prevention organization, delivering resources to nearly one million students in 3,250 schools across the country. To further their network-wide commitment to evidence-based practice, CIS collaborated with the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network at Clemson University (NDPC/N) to conduct a comprehensive study of the dropout crisis in the United States. (282 pages)

The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts (March 2006)
The central message of this report is that while some students drop out because of significant academic challenges, most dropouts are students who could have, and believe they could have, succeeded in school. (44 pages)

What Your Community Can Do to End Its Dropout Crisis: Learning from Research and Practice (May 2007)
From the National Summit on America’s Silent Epidemic - Balfanz, et al. cite that many communities in the United States face a silent epidemic-year after year, and that one third to half or more of the primarily low-income and minority students they educate in their public school systems fail to graduate from high school. The focus of this report is what communities can do to help the dropout crisis in their own community. (29 pages)

Effective Strategies for Dropout Prevention - National Dropout Prevention Center (NDPC)
NDPC has identified 15 effective strategies that have the most positive impact on the dropout rate. These strategies have been implemented successfully at all education levels and environments throughout the nation.

Effective Interventions in Dropout Prevention: A Practice Brief for Educators
NDPC-SD was specifically established to assist in building states’ capacity to increase school completion rates for students with disabilities through knowledge synthesis, technical assistance, and dissemination of interventions and practices that work. NDPC-SD is located at the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N) at Clemson University (website)

Alliance for Education Excellence
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a national policy, advocacy, and research organization created to help all middle and high school students receive an excellent education. Several research documents are found here related to the dropout crisis.

National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities (NDPC-SD)

Raising Graduation Rates in an Era of High Standards - Five Commitments for State Action (February 2008)
A White Paper prepared for Staying the Course: High Standards and Improved Graduation Rates a joint project of ACHIEVE and JOBS FOR THE FUTURE, funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York. (32 pages)

On Ramp for College (May 2008)
On Ramp for College provides a guide for dual enrollment. Based on Jobs for the Future’s experience in the field, Jobs For the Future has defined high-level principles that characterize the best dual/concurrent enrollment programs. The mission of dual/concurrent enrollment is to serve a wide range of students, particularly those from groups who attend college at disproportionately low rates. (64 pages)

Solutions for Failing High Schools: Converging Visions and Promising Models (March 2002)
This report examines promising solutions that have emerged over the past decade to the failings of traditional comprehensive high schools. It refers to a number of research studies, policy documents, and descriptions of how high schools have been experimenting with different reforms to improve student engagement and learning. Based on this research, the argument is made that the discourse on high school reform is converging around a set of basic principles and specific reform strategies designed to move schools away from the standardized, factory model of education and toward a more personalized, focused approach that provides multiple high quality learning pathways to prepare all students for college and career. (25 pages)


Modified Supplemental Amount for Services for Returning Dropouts and Dropout Prevention under Iowa Code chapter 257, sections 38-41

Rules have been adopted by the State Board of Education to incorporate the application process for modified supplemental amount for returning dropout and dropout prevention services into the comprehensive school improvement planning. This action was intended to reduce paperwork and redundancy and to assure comprehensive local planning for all children and youth. To access the available funds, districts must complete the modified supplemental amount application available on the Department’s Portal.  Applications for modified supplemental amount must be filed with the Department no later than December 15 of the school year preceding the school year in which the funds are to be used.

The budget of an approved program for returning dropouts and dropout prevention for a school district, after subtracting funds received from other sources for that purpose, shall be funded annually on a basis of one-fourth or more from the regular program district cost and up to three-fourths by modified supplemental amount, as defined in Iowa Code section 257.41. By February 15 of each year, the Iowa Department of Education will notify the Department of Management and School Budget Review Committee of the approved budget for each program submitted by local school districts. The Department of Management will establish a modified supplemental amount for each district equal to the lesser of the portion of the budget that is not funded from the district’s local budget, or five percent of the budget enrollment multiplied times the district cost per pupil. The ratio of the amount of modified supplemental amount compared to the district's regular program district cost shall not exceed two and one-half percent.  However, if the school district's such ratio so determined for any fiscal year beginning on or after July 1, 2009, but before July 1, 2013, exceeded two and one-half percent, the ratio may exceed two and one-half percent but shall not exceed the highest such ratio established during that period.  School districts will be notified of the action of the School Budget Review Committee following its March hearing through the SBRC summary of official action posted on the Department’s web site.

Budgets approved on the basis of this application must be used for expenditures as described in the approved Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) activities or approved continuing applications presently on file at the Department of Education. Returning Dropout and Dropout Prevention balances unexpended at the end of the fiscal year shall be carried over and used to offset the subsequent year's costs and requests for modified supplemental amount.

2015-2016 Dropout Prevention - Modified Supplemental Amount

2014-2015 Dropout Prevention - Modified Supplemental Amount

2013-2014 Dropout Prevention - Modified Allowable Growth

2012-2013 Dropout Prevention - Modified Allowable Growth

2011-2012 Dropout Prevention - Modified Allowable Growth

2010-2011 Dropout Prevention - Modified Allowable Growth


Also see: Alternative Education, At Risk, and Learning Supports

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on November 25, 2015 at 6:54pm.