Quality Early Childhood Education in Preventing High School Dropouts

The high school dropout rate in the United States had dramatically increased from 2007 to 2011. According to studies, there are different reasons why students drop out of school. Reports indicate that such problems occur because students feel disconnected with the school environment, they find school uninteresting and boring, they are unmotivated to study, academic challenges pressure students, and lastly problems of real world events mostly related to that at home and finances force students to drop out (Bridgeland, Dilulio, and Morison 3).

According to reports, the Lost Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has one of the lowest graduation rates in California at 40.6% using Education Week’s 2007 data (californiaschildren.typepad.com/californias-children/2010/06/hs-grad-rates-plumet-in-ca.html).

Surveys conducted on high school drop outs suggests that those students who drop out are mostly from low income families or minority groups namely those of African-American or Hispanic origins (High School Dropouts in America). Students who drop out differ from those who graduate as early as elementary and middle school days.

They are distinguished by their home and community circumstances, the school they attend and their attitudes, behaviours and overall performances in class or extracurricular activities. “For too many poor and minority children, ‘at risk’ describes their fate and not simply their circumstances. We are convinces that by improving both children’s circumstances and their school, we can change their fate” (Preventing Future High School Dropouts: An Advocacy and Action Guide for NEA State and Local Affiliates).

In recent studies the National Dropout Prevention Center/ Network had identified that early childhood education is one of the most effective strategies, when implemented at all educational levels and environment, in improving the dropout rate of the nation and increasing high school graduation rates. Researchers found out that by granting additional enrichment to a child can enhance his brain from birth to 5 years of age.

Providing the best classroom instruction at the beginning of a child’s school experience and exposure can be an effective way in reducing high school dropout rates and increasing graduation rates (Effective Strategies for Dropout Prevention). Compared to other suggestions that were previously proposed, this strategy is a superior solution because it has greater possible effects on children from lower socioeconomic status and minority groups.

This approach deals within a comprehensive preventive program that will have great promise in increasing children’s cognitive functioning, and it is feasible in an economically tough time especially since the federal government has limited budget in terms of education (Powell and Cosgrove). Studies in the 1960s have demonstrated that preschool programs develop the cognitive literacy and social skills of students which are essential in shaping the latter’s’ future behaviour and performance not only in school but also in life.

Quality early childhood education supports students’ success in school, minimizes retention among students, lowers the risk of student misbehaviours and more importantly increases graduation rates of high school students (Sullivan and Ayala). The early childhood stage of a person’s life is the most crucial part of his being because it shapes that person’s future beliefs, outlook and ambitions in life.

Early detection of students’ behaviours leaning towards decisions of dropping out is important in effectively preventing such occurrence. Students who drop out have been lost for quite some time before they actually decided to stop going to school. Problems related to social and task behaviours which eventually lead to drop out can be identified as early as the student’s elementary or middle school days thus the importance of early childhood education is crucial in this sense.

The foundation of a child’s academic success lies on his early childhood experience and exposure. In this stage in life 90% of brain development occurs (Jensen). Children who receive a high quality of early childhood education show low rates of grade retention, high level of academic success, minimal special education services and stronger commitment to graduate (Stegelin 115-123).

Children with quality preschool orientation have impressive literacy development which lessens their risk to repeat a grade. Studies show that children with poor reading skills are more likely to repeat a grade level, setting the stage for a pattern of failure in school which eventually lead them to feel academically challenged and unmotivated in terms of school work and cooperation (Early Childhood Education).

Quality early childhood education’s goal is to prepare children from ages 5 and below for elementary school with good language development, cognitive skills and self concept regardless of family or economic background (Facing the School Dropout Dilemma).

There are many factors influencing students’ decision in dropping out according to research studies. These factors may include school environments and how a student fit in and connect with his teachers and fellow classmates, individual behaviour and personality, and conditions in the socioeconomic context of a student’s life. There are many strategies on how to effectively solve the problem of low graduation rate of high school students. (Early Literacy Development).

These strategies drafted out by the National Dropout Prevention Center/ Network may include from the school and community perspective; system renewal, school-community collaboration, safe learning environments; from an early intervention perspective family engagement, early childhood education and early literacy development; it is also important to formulate and strengthen basic core strategies such as mentoring or tutoring, service learning, alternative schooling, provision of after school opportunities and lastly teachers and facilitators should make most of instructions with professional development programs, active learning enthusiasm present among the faculty, advance educational technology is also vital in the teaching process, individualization of instruction can be crucial to a student’s learning process and quality career and technology education program are essential for students (Early Childhood Education).

Among the fifteen (15) strategies provided the most important is early childhood education because early interference in a child’s life prevents him from dropping out of school. A student’s decision to drop out of school is a result of his long-term disconnection from school (Blue and Cook 1-11).

Other strategies are also important and effective but with a good quality preschool education under a child’s belt his probability of dropping out in high school is slim. It may be too late already to condition the mind of a child in middle school or high school especially with his detachment issues towards going to school which has already built up over the years.

As early as two (2) years of age it is recommended that children must be provided with early childhood programs with high quality to produce positive outcomes for children in their futures. “High quality” preschools as identified by educational economist refer to the employment of qualified teachers who are well compensated and the school’s provision of support in healthy development which include programs on health services, proper nutrition and family support (Early Care and Education: What it Costs).

The federal government’s investment in good quality early childhood education and child care especially in public schools can be more significant by paying returns to future citizens, in this case the children of the future. Good preschool programs can do good to taxpayers and improve the Unites States’ economy because quality education benefits children from all groups and backgrounds.

Advantages of quality education can be low rates of high school dropouts but it can also improve the economy by preparing children to succeed in school and life thus better high paying jobs for the future citizens and fewer crime rates, easy access to preschool programs by making them affordable can help working parents fulfil their responsibilities better and faster both at work and at home and lastly quality early childhood education is important in producing competitive workforce for the US economy (Early Childhood Education for All: A Wise Investment).

Researches show that the United States especially in Los Angeles California has been suffering from low high school graduate rate and increasingly high dropout rate among students.

Strategies have been implemented by different organizations to improve the numbers of students graduating each year. Among these strategies the enhancement and promotion of quality early childhood programs accessible to all groups serves as one of the most promising strategies in increasing graduation rates in high school.

Quality preschool programs may condition a child to be competitive in school, aim for high goals and develop commitment in his studies. Effects of good programs may not only lower down dropout rates but may also uplift the US economy by producing competent work force.

Works Cited

Blue, Debbie and Cook Jennifer. “High School Dropouts: Can We Reverse the Stagnation in School Graduation?” Study of High School Restructuring 1.2 (2004): 1-11. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.

Bridgeland, John, Dilulio, John Jr. and Morison, Karen Burke. “The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts.” Civic Enterprises LLC., Mar 2006. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.

Jensen, Eric. Teaching with the Brain in Mind. 2nd ed. United States of America: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Deve, 2005. Print.

Powell, Irene and Cosgrove, James. “Quality and Cost in Early Childhood Education.” The Journal of Human Resources 27.3 (1992): n. Pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.

Stegelin, Dolores. “Early Childhood Education.” Helping Students Graduate: A Strategic Approach to Dropout Prevention (2004): 115-123. Print.

Sullivan, Joan and Ayala, Celia. “Early Education Effective in Combating High School Dropout Epidemic”. Eastern Group Publications. 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. Egpnews.com/?p=19933.

“Early Care and Education: What it Costs.” Center for Children’s Initiative. 1 Jun. 2007. Web. 1 Dec.2011. childcareinc.org/publications/Early_Care_and_Education_-_What_it_Costs.pdf.

“Early Childhood Education.”. National Dropout Prevention Center/ Network. Clemson University. 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. Dropoutprevention.org/effective-strategies

“Early Literacy Development.” National Dropout Prevention Center/ Network. Clemson University. 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. Dropoutprevention.org/effective-strategies.

“Effective Strategies for Dropout Prevention.” National Dropout Prevention Center/ Network. Clemson University. 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. Dropoutprevention.org/effective-strategies.

“Facing the School Dropout Dilemma.” American Psychological Association. 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. apa.org/pi/families/resources/school-dropout-prevention.aspx#.

“High School Dropouts in America.” Alliance for Excellence Education Fact Sheet Feb. 2009. n.p. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.

“LAUSD 2nd Worst HS Grad Rate in US; CA ranks 41st among States.” California’s Children, n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. Californiaschildren.typepad.com/californias-children/2010/06/hs-grad-rates-plument-in-ca.html.

Early Childhood Education for All: A Wise Investment. New York: Legal Momentum Family Initiative and MIT Workplace Center, 2005. Print.

Preventing Future High School Dropouts: An Advocacy and Action Guide for NEA State and Local Affiliates. Washington: National Education Association, 2008. Print.