I know what you are thinking.  I am commenting on another article from the October 2012 issue of Economics of Education Review!  Sorry, it is what I do.

Anyway, Dorothyjean Cratty of Duke University published a pretty interesting article that deals with dropout prevention.  In “Potential for significant reductions in dropout rates: Analysis of an entire 3rd grade state cohort,” She found that 19.3 percent of 1997–98 North Carolina 3rd graders were observed to drop out of high school.  How do we lower that remarkably high rate?  Cratty proposes an answer.  She writes,

Three encouraging findings emerge. The first is that even modest growth in math and reading skills is followed by a virtuous cycle of student engagement that can leverage small gains into significant advances. The second is that students with tremendous challenges—such as, low average ability, high absenteeism, and learning disabilities—have the potential to achieve greater outcomes through programs that generate this modest growth. Lastly, through federal, state, and local mandates, these programs are already practiced in every public school district in the country.

The “programs” referenced above are gifted or AIG programs.  Cratty finds that low-performing students may “benefit from the resources and methods of the gifted programs” and calls for an “extension of these programs to students with high dropout probability scores.”  She predicts that doing so could lower the dropout rate by up to 25 percent.

From a broader policy perspective, this study suggests that the Republican legislators were right to focus resources on grades K-3.   According to this study, even small gains in math and reading proficiency among at-risk students in grades K-3 will reduce the likelihood that they drop out of school later in their academic career.