“We owe it to our children and our communities to do all we can to ensure every child completes high school,” Zahorchak said. “To that end, Pennsylvania has put together an aggressive, multi-pronged approach to help every student succeed in school and beyond.”
Zahorchak said Pennsylvania’s comprehensive approach to curbing dropouts has three main components: prevention, intervention and re-engagement.
Prevention efforts are aimed at helping at-risk children get off to a solid start through programs such as Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, state funding for Head Start and block grant funding for full-day kindergarten. The department also works closely with the Department of Public Welfare to administer early intervention programs to aid children with particular educational or developmental needs.
Intervention and re-engagement programs include tutoring, alternative education programs and a host of efforts to make high school more challenging and engaging for students.
These efforts include:
• Classrooms for the Future, a three-year investment to provide laptop computers, high-speed Internet access and state-of-the-art software to high school classrooms across the state.
• A Dual Enrollment program that allows high school students to take college-level, credit-bearing courses at local community colleges and four-year colleges and universities while earning credit towards high school graduation.
• Project 720, named for the number of days a Pennsylvania student spends in school from 9th through 12th grades. Project 720 ensures all high school students have access to college prep courses in core subjects, provides additional Advanced Placement courses and offers smaller learning environments for better student-teacher interaction.
All of these efforts are aimed at creating a more rigorous and relevant curriculum that keeps students engaged.
Ed Secretary Outlines PA's Efforts to Address Dropout Situation