National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
Increasing Rates of School Completion
Moving From Policy and Research to Practice
A Manual for Policymakers, Administrators, and Educators
Part III: What Works in Dropout Prevention?
Sample Dropout Intervention Program
ACHIEVEMENT FOR LATINOS THROUGH ACADEMIC SUCCESS (ALAS)
Background: Achievement for Latinos through Academic
Success (ALAS) was one of three projects that received funding in 1990 from
the Office of Special Education Programs to address the problem of dropout for
students with disabilities. The project focused on preventing dropout in high-risk
middle school and junior high Latino students through involvement with students
and their families, the school, and the community.
Intervention Description: ALAS was developed to prevent
high-risk Latino students with and without disabilities from dropping out of
school. The model uses a collaborative approach involving the student, family,
school, and community. Fundamental aspects of the program in each of four areas
are listed below.
- Students receive social problem-solving training, counseling, increased
and specific recognition of academic excellence, and enhancement of school
- Schools are responsible for providing frequent teacher feedback to students
and parents and attendance monitoring. In addition, schools are expected to
provide training for students in problem-solving and social skills.
- Parents of program participants receive training in school participation,
accessing and using community resources, and how to guide and monitor adolescents.
- Collaboration with the community is encouraged through increased interaction
between community agencies and families. Efforts to enhance skills and methods
for serving the youth and family are also implemented.
Participants & Setting: This program targeted
Latino middle or junior high students who were considered to be at high risk
of school failure. The program particularly focused on Mexican-American students
from high-poverty neighborhoods who had learning and emotional/behavioral disabilities.
Students selected for participation were either (a) students with active Individual
Education Programs (IEPs) and an identified learning disability or severe emotional/behavioral
disability, or (b) students who did not have IEPs, but who exhibited characteristics
placing them at-risk for dropping out of school. Students were required to be
able to speak English to participate in the program. ALAS has been used in urban
and suburban settings.
Implementation Considerations: Leaders of training
sessions for parents and students are required, as are teachers willing to provide
extensive and frequent feedback to families. Community liaisons are also necessary
to facilitate communication between school, families, and community resources.
A program coordinator is used to oversee all aspects of the program and ensure
that everything is running smoothly.
Cost: No information was identified in the available
Evidence of Effectiveness: Three cohorts of students
began receiving the ALAS intervention in seventh grade. The first cohort of
students received the intervention for three years. Treatment outcomes for students
in ninth grade indicated program participants who had IEPs had significantly
lower dropout rates compared to the IEP control group. In addition, students
who received the intervention and who were in the program longer had lower dropout
rates than IEP participants who began in the second year of implementation.
When comparing the high-risk, non-IEP program participants to high-risk, non-IEP
nonparticipants, the ALAS students had much lower dropout rates (2.2% compared
to 16.7%). In general, this study also found that program participants had lower
rates of absenteeism, lower percentages of failed classes, and a higher proportion
of credits (on track to graduate) when compared to nonparticipants.
Follow-up data were also collected for a cohort of students in eleventh grade.
Results showed a higher proportion of students were enrolled in school as compared
to students who were not in ALAS. In order for optimal results, the authors
of the study advocate for sustained intervention over time (perhaps until graduation),
especially given the risk characteristics of this population targeted for intervention.
Manual or Training Available: A bi-lingual trainer
is available who can provide on-site training to school and community personnel.
Please contact Magda Neil at (818) 957-2742.
Fashola, O. S., & Slavin, R. E. (1998). Effective dropout prevention and
college attendance programs for students placed at risk. Journal of Education
for Students Placed At Risk, 3(2), 159-183.
Thornton, H. (Ed.) (1995). Staying in school: A technical report of three
dropout prevention projects for middle school students with learning and emotional
disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community
Thurlow, M. L., Christenson, S. L., Sinclair, M. F., Evelo, D. L., & Thornton,
H. (1995). Staying in school: Strategies for middle school students with
learning and emotional disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota,
Institute on Community Integration.
1.19MB, 84 pages
Citation: Lehr, C. A., Johnson, D.
R., Bremer, C. D., Cosio, A., & Thompson, M. (2004). Essential
tools: Increasing rates of school completion: Moving from policy and research
to practice. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute
on Community Integration, National Center on Secondary Education and Transition.
Permission is granted to duplicate this publication in its entirety or
portions thereof. Upon request, this publication will be made available
in alternative formats. For additional copies of this publication, or
to request an alternate format, please contact: Institute
on Community Integration Publications Office, 109 Pattee Hall, 150
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This document was published by the National
Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET). NCSET is supported
through a cooperative agreement #H326J000005 with the U.S. Department
of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Opinions expressed
herein do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Department
of Education Programs, and no official endorsement should be inferred.
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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition are equal opportunity
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