Chapter 12 - Solving the dropout dilemma

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Solving the dropout dilemma

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science, math and related subjects have been included. "We have no separate computer studies department," says new principal Russell Trethewey, "and computer work and field trips play key parts in all studies. Students revert to the subject curriculum in the third year, to sit national exams, and the results there are also well ahead of the national average."19
  Freyberg also has shown the fastest growth in roll numbers of any school in New Zealand's North Island: almost double in four years.

3. Group study and "big picture" techniques
 
  That same motivation spurs on educational consultant Don Brown, who has also introduced two other "success" innovations to a high school near Palmerston North: Kapiti College.
  "For years, 30 percent of New Zealand's population," says Brown, "have been leaving high school without a single qualification, and for years we've had a School Certificate exam which actually and deliberately failed 50 percent of youngsters. Now if we did that out in the real world we would have to say that 30 percent of the population would never get a drivers' licence, and 50 percent of them would be continually sitting and resitting the exam to try and get one. Adults would never tolerate that, but that's the system we've had in schools."20
  To change that, Kapiti college has introduced two separate American-inspired initiatives aimed at preventing dropout failures.
  The first is called cooperative learning. "Very simply," says Brown, "that means that instead of working individually with everybody in competition with each other, you develop interdependence within teams." The second innovation comes directly from the jigsaw, "big picture" example: see the pieces first and it's easier to put together. So a Kapiti class not only works in cooperative groups - the teacher puts them in the complete picture before they start. They call the technique The Advance Organizer.
  Brown again: "The advance organizer gives you the picture before you have to look at the bits, and then invites you to bring the bits together to make the picture like it was presented to you in the first place."
  It is, of course, the kind of thing any competent company manager would do: spell out a year's program in advance so his staff know where they fit in the picture. And at Kapiti College these two systems are showing especially good results for those who would otherwise be

 

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