Give young people a one-stop option for re-enrolling in school
Youth who leave or are pushed out of high school often recognize that they need to continue their education, but returning to school without help and guidance can be very difficult. City leaders can join with schools and community-based partners to support initiatives that locate young people who have not completed high school and then assess each young person’s educational and social service needs. Such reengagement efforts typically identify the barriers that youth are likely to face when resuming their schooling, and then facilitate their enrollment in a suitable school or program where they can earn a high school diploma or its equivalent, including alternative schools and career pathway courses at the local community college. While still relatively new, one-stop reengagement programs now operate in several dozen cities of varying sizes across the nation.
Set a community-wide goal for high school graduation
Even though most city leaders have no direct authority over or governing role in their public schools, setting a goal for increasing the high school graduation rate can galvanize the community and focus municipal agencies on their potential roles in boosting school completion. Discussions with school leaders about school discipline policies that can impede high school completion – including excessing reliance on suspensions, expulsions and arrests on or near school grounds – can also help the community reach its goals.
Work with schools, nonprofits, and community colleges to offer a broad range of education options
It is not surprising that many students who have left a particular school do not want to return to the same school when they are ready to resume their education. Cities such as Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia have drawn upon information gained through reengagement efforts to reconfigure and expand options for completing high school-level certifications. City and school district leaders can also strategically enlist the help of youth-serving agencies, community- and faith-based organizations, and local foundations and community colleges to expand offerings for young people who are seeking to return to school.