Monday, June 27, 2011

What can be done to reconnect disconnected youth

Just recently revisited Building a Learning Agenda Around Disconnected Youth. This excellent paper:
  • Summarizes the findings of evaluations of programs to help connect dropouts with education and/or employment, noting that "[m]ost second-chance programs for youth have never been formally evaluated for effectiveness. Moreover, because the programs are often run by small community-based organizations, the most rigorous evaluation methods are probably not feasible or appropriate in many cases."
  • Develops a continuum of intervention strategies to help those ranging from the "least unconnected" to the "most disconnected" youth, and
  • Identifies areas of unmet need.
One of the best things about this paper is that it makes clear for a policy (rather than advocacy) audience that at-risk students or disconnected youth are a diverse group, with widely ranging levels of skill and motivation, and that a one-size-fits-all approach to re-engaging these young people in education or the workforce will not work. In reviewing education legislation so far this session, however, it's disappointing that few if any measures seem to build off the findings of this report. Are there in fact new state policies that have been informed by this report's thoughtful findings? Are the findings perhaps driving local efforts that are not necessarily on the state policy radar screen? Or must more be done to bring these critical and actionable findings to a state policymaker audience?

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