Stopping High School Dropouts Starts in Middle School, According to the National Human Services Assembly

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- How can we keep kids on track on the middle school years? According to a new report from the National Human Services Assembly, which represents more than 80 major human services organizations, the answer may lie outside of the schools, with the youth group workers who already work with so many of the country's at-risk youth.

In the report – Keeping Kids on Track in the Middle School Years: Investing in Out-of-School Time Staff and Volunteer Competencies as a Dropout Prevention Strategy – the National Assembly calls for investments in afterschool, summer learning, and mentoring programs that will:

Train staff and volunteers so they not only understand how youth ages 11-15 are growing but also have the skills to create positive learning experiences;
Create quality improvement systems that provide incentives for staff and volunteers to use best practices when working with youth; and
Allow youth programs to invest in their managers' abilities to coach their staff and to strengthen ties between youth and their families, schools, and communities.

Irv Katz, President of the National Assembly, said, "In the push to reverse the high school dropout crisis, one opportunity has been largely overlooked: stopping disconnection where it takes hold – in the middle school years. Preventing youth from dropping out of high school requires efforts to assure all middle schoolers receive the academic and community-based support they need to stay on track toward high school graduation."

Katz noted that research shows that afterschool, weekend, and summer programs for students in middle school give youth opportunities to develop skills and receive support they need to stay on track toward high school graduation. Effective programs outside of school hours also build strong, healthy connections between young people and their families and their communities.

About the National Human Services Assembly

The National Human Services Assembly is an association of more than 80 national nonprofit human service organizations working collaboratively, though the National Assembly, to continuously improve research, policy and practice relative to human services.

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Source:National Human Services Assembly