HSD Intervening to Prevent Student Dropout
More than 100 students in the district graduated last year due to dropout prevention efforts. All three high schools have their own programs to aid those students at-risk of dropping out.
The dropout rate in the Hazelwood School District (HSD) has been on a steady increase.
Hazelwood Central High School currently has 70 students on an in-house dropout prevention program, according to Central's principal Cheryol Mitchell.
She, along with Hazelwood West's principal Dennis Newell, and Hazelwood East's principal Jacqueline Kelly, discussed programs each school has adopted to save students like Darius Matthews, a sophomore at West, who said he was on the road to giving up on school as early as his freshman year.
"In my freshman year at Hazelwood West I failed three classes and I hated school," he said. "I didn't like my teachers and I didn't feel connected to the school."
Matthews, who aspires to play football but could not due to his grades, said he joined West's Project Walk at the start of the 2012 school year.
"When I first started Project Walk in August I was excited about the program because I found someone to help me pass my classes," he said. "And also someone that helps keep me out of trouble and someone that made me want to come to school more (he said of his project walk teacher).
"I love coming to school now."
Hazelwood Central's Dropout Prevention Program
The purpose of Hazelwood Central's dropout prevention program is to identify students at risk of dropping out of high school as soon as possible, Mitchell said.
Central recently began the dropout prevention program which has some goals including: increasing parent involvement, monitoring daily attendance, identifying students having trouble, mentoring, tutoring and credit recovery (E2020).
The program allows students to make up credits before, during and after school hours.
Central has approximately 70 students in the credit recovery program and for those before and after school. Mitchell said there is no fee to attend.
She also said staff continually reviews and evaluates the program on a weekly basis.
Hazelwood West's Project Walk
Newell said Hazelwood West High School was invited to pilot the program due to its increasing dropout rate.
In the past four years, the dropout rate at Hazelwood West High School (HWHS) has increased by 10 percent each year.
"In 2011 DESE (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) invited West to be apart of its dropout prevention study," he said. "HWHS has had the benefit of creating a formal program."
Last year 108 students dropped out of HWHS, Newell said. Currently HWHS has 40 students in Project Walk, with six teachers providing support.
West has worked with areas businesses to create incentives for students, and Newell said 86 percent of students have earned additional credits, with 45 percent increasing school attendance.
Hazelwood East's Dropout Prevention Program
Hazelwood East High School has had a drop out prevention program the longest of all three high schools.
Although it never had an official name, Principal Kelly said the program has been helping students for several years. It includes consistent monitoring, parent contact, care team meetings, tutoring, credit recovery and Fresh Start Academy. Fresh Start is an early intervention program for freshman and sophomore students who fall behind in credits.
Kelly said East's counselors also create watch lists of those students with a lot of academic and social emotional issues in an effort to continually keep up with them and monitor academic progress.
"During the 2012 school year, 57 seniors completed credit recovery options and were able to graduate on time," she said. "This year, 38 seniors have completed the credit recovery courses during the Fall semester."
Kelly said 50 students are slated to graduate in the spring.
The ultimate goal of the dropout programs in HSD is to ensure the post secondary success for the students, Newell said.
Darrell Strong, HSD assistant superintendent for learning, said the cost of all three programs combined to the district is $12,500. He said all the teachers involved in before and after components of program volunteer their time.
The graduation rate decreased from 1990–91 to 2008–09 in 20 states including Missouri by more than 5 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Still, Missouri was one of fifteen states to have graduation rates of 80 percent or more.