Friday, February 06, 2009

Potential School Dropout or Late Bloomer with High Potential - Do adult attitudes regarding struggling ninth grade students make a difference?

So often I see students in the ninth grade who are completely overwhelmed by the demands of of the "Big School". They soon find that they can not keep up with the rate and pace of work, and often failing key core courses. Some demonstrate increasingly disruptive behaviors and express their discontent in ways that rub teachers and administrator the wrong way.

As a school psychologist, I know that many of these students have hidden strengths and talents, but the curriculum they face does not match the way they learn.

What are the consequences of this problem? It isn't pretty.

Ninth grade students have the highest rate of failure in grade, detentions, expulsions, suspensions,
long-term alternative school placements, and school drop-out.

Despite various efforts to improve outcomes for high school students, things don't change from year to year. Cohort after cohort of teens follow the same path, and this is documented by similar statistics throughout most of the U.S.

The following chart shows what I mean. It outlines the average number of short term suspensions of students at various levels of the educational system in North Carolina from 2002-03 through 2006-07:

For more information about the problems young people face when entering the ninth grade, and links to some solutions, see the following post:

"Ninth Grade Tipping Point: What Happens in the First Year of High School Impacts Graduation and Dropout Rates"

For an interesting story about one man's personal experience as a late bloomer, take a look at
"Confessions of a Late Bloomer "
"We have fixed notions about the time course of success and the nature of talent that encourage us to write off the very people who are most likely to (eventually) change the world.
Scott Barry Kaufman
Psychology Today Nov/Dec 2008

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