Many school district leaders, particularly those in urban areas, struggle to reduce dropout rates, but find themselves overwhelmed by the dimensions of the problem. There are, however, a few districts making notable progress towards reducing the number of dropouts and ensuring that students earn high school diplomas in a timely manner.
One of these is the Portland, Oregon, Public Schools (PPS). In the course of a single calendar year (2007-2008) PPS began to have a positive impact in addressing its dropout problem. How? The key was gathering data that illuminated the true scope of the problem, identifying predictive indicators to spot high risk students, and then marshalling teachers, administrators and support services to focus on those individual students entering 9th grade who were at the highest risk of dropping out of high school.