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Middle School Moment on PBS’s Frontline

Middle School Moment on PBS’s Frontline

PBS’s Frontline highlights Johns Hopkins professor Bob Balfanz’s research on middle school students’ attendance, behavior and course performance – the ABCs, as Balfanz calls it – and the strong link to dropping out of high school. In high-poverty schools, if a sixth grader attends less than 80 percent of the time, receives an unsatisfactory behavior grade in a core course, or fails math or English, there is a 75 percent chance that he or she will later drop out of high school — absent effective intervention.

The story explores how adults at a Bronx middle school analyze the ABC data weekly and work to keep each kid on track, a strategy behind the national Diplomas Now model. Balfanz argues that there aren’t enough teachers to reach every struggling student so schools need to get creative and bring in a “second shift” of adults — national service corps members, volunteers, retired teachers — so that everyone in “that group of kids in the middle” has an adult, which is a big part of Diplomas Now.

Watch the Frontline story here.

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