Monday, March 20, 2017

Is Your Child Stressed? Here’s A Way To Help!

One of the common complaints that we hear from a number of parents is how busy and stressed their high school child is.  This generally comes from parents of students that fall into one of two categories: 1) those that take a full or challenging load of courses and are involved in a number of school activities, and 2) those that are high achievers but have some confidence issues.  There are certainly other reasons teenagers experience negative stress, including relationship issues, problems at home, and myriad of other things that exist in the average life of an adolescent.  In the ten or so years when we have had conversations with parents, and the child, quite often we discover that they have a counselor that they see regularly, and some are on medication for anxiety and other stress related disorders.  Those are the extreme cases, and much more often I have conversations with parents who simply say their child does not have enough time in the day to do all that is expected of them.  There are some that “want it all” and struggle to figure out what they are willing to give up.  There are others that have balance and simply are very busy teens.  

Tim Elmore, recognized author, speaker, and expert in the development of young leaders, has a perspective that you may find helpful in terms of how to help your child deal with stress.  From a personal standpoint, it has worked in our household and I certainly think it is worth consideration.  

An Antidote for Students’ Stress

Friday, March 10, 2017

Some News About Dropouts in the United States

We have been fortunate at North Fayette Valley in that there have not been too many dropouts in recent years, though from my perspective, one dropout is too many.  Our graduation percentage is above the state average and generally speaking, we have been below state averages with dropouts as well.  The issue of dropouts is significant on the national perspective, and in some places, dropout rates have been incredibly high, even approaching 45 to 50%.  When “No Child Left Behind” legislation was passed about fifteen years ago, one of the goals was to sharply reduce the number of students that dropped out of high school, and at the same time, see that all students had a quality education before they graduated from high school.  People can argue all they want about NCLB, but one of the successes has been the issue of reducing dropouts.

There has been a lot of criticism directed toward American education due to the dropout problem, and it served as one of the reasons some opponents piled on about poor performing schools.  In many respects I am of the same notion.  When nearly half of a class drops out before graduation, that is a problem!  Unlike some I do not put this all at the feet of the schools.  There is a direct connection to poverty that cannot be ignored that is as much, if not more so, to blame.  That said, while some public school critics continue to point out the issue of dropouts, there is some very interesting news.

Dropouts have decline across all demographic groups.  Since they started charting dropout data, Hispanic and African-American students have had the highest dropout rates.  When they started specifically recording Hispanic numbers in 1972, over 33% of all Hispanic students dropped out.  While Hispanics still have the highest rate of all ethnic groups, that percentage has dropped to 13.6% today.  African-American kids were dropping out at a rate of 29% in 1967, but today their percentage is down to 7%, which is at the national average.  White students have seen a drop in the same period of time from 15% to 5%.  At NFVHS we do not have a minority population that is large enough to establish trends, though we do pay very close attention to those students as we know some face particular cultural challenges that make them more inclined to leave school before they earn a diploma.

Low-income students are much more likely to drop out than their middle-class peers.  This hasn’t changed as poverty has been a factor for years.  At one time when there was a higher percentage of working poor, students dropped out to help generate income for the family.  At one time, kids living in poverty dropped out at a rate of about five times their high-income peers.  Today that has risen to ten-times high-income kids, and 2.4 times more likely than middle-income kids.  Many teachers will tell you today that the reason is a lack of value placed on education by the family.  The future is not totally grim as the dropout rate for low-income kids in 1975 was 16% and now that number sits below 10%.  However, this is a very troubling statistic as generational poverty has become a standard and expectation for many who depend on entitlement programs.  In our school this is the most at-risk demographic, and we are seeing more students enroll from homes where poverty is a genuine issue.  Poverty is an American problem holding back the education of millions of students.

Students with disabilities are still being left behind by schools.  At a national level, students with learning or physical disabilities drop out at a rate of about 36%.  However, that is not the case in our district.  In fact, we are very proud of the success of our students in our special education programs.  Yes, we have had students who have an IEP drop out, but over the past eight years they make up less than 10% of our special education population, and over half of those that did drop out transferred into our high school, some of them with extreme behavior needs, and did not have the benefit of learning in our system for more than a year.  To the contrary, we are very proud at NFVHS of our programs for students with disabilities.

Men and women drop out at around equal rates.  Most people probably imagine that the typical dropout is male, but in the past forty years, there have only been four years on the national level where male dropouts were significantly greater than females.  Over the past eight years at our high school 58% of the dropouts were boys.  In the past three years, 64% have been girls.

Washington D.C. has the lowest high school graduation rate and Iowa has the highest.  This statistic remains constant, at least with Iowa at the top.  Iowa’s graduation rate has been around 88% for the past few years and just reached 90.8% in 2015.  Our’s has consistently been comfortably above 90% for many years.  We are not perfect, but we have a good track record of students completing their education and earning a diploma.  

The positive thing is that in our country fewer students are dropping out.  That was a fundamental goal of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy passed in the early 2000’s.  The consequences of leaving school without a diploma are huge.  Lifetime earnings drop dramatically and the risk of all kinds of negative social implications increase.  Education is still the best path to upward mobility.  We work hard to prevent students from dropping out, but ultimately the individual has the final decision.  All that said, the proudest day we have each year at NFVHS is when we honor those students who complete their education, earn a diploma, and celebrate by walking across the stage in their cap and gown!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What Majors Pay-off With The Big Bucks?

Our guidance counselor, Bill Clark, shared this article with me a while back.  We run across quite a few of these types of things, more so now with the renewed emphasis on career exploration and development being placed at the secondary school level in Iowa.  This one is a very easy to read, straight-forward view of majors and what an estimate would be for entry level salaries and pay.  Take a few minutes and look it over, spend some time with your child looking at it, and keep it handy for future conversations when the topic of “What are you going to do with your life?” come up!  

50 Highest Paying College Majors