Monday, January 21, 2008

Middle School Archive Project - Dropout Prevention

The Middle School Archive Project design and history from 2005 to the present are described in detail on the web site. This blog is where feedback is posted and responded to.

The Middle School Archive Project is a response to the dropout crisis being faced in most US schools. The John Hopkins University designation of 1700 schools as dropout factories is a major step forward in US education. It is simply admitting the problem. All Dallas ISD non-magnet high schools are on the "dropout factory" list. See for details.

All high schools are challenged, especially those on the "Dropout Factory" list, to place their enrollment numbers by grade onto a spreadsheet going back 10 years, with the last number being the number of diplomas given out each year. Such a Dallas ISD spreadsheet is at that shows the work we must do. Most of the public will be shocked by these spreadsheets. They require school administrators to explain how 30-65% of the 9th grade classes can be missing at graduation and the school still claim a single digit dropout rate, often below 2% as has often happened in Texas. That is why you will not find them on school district web sites. As painful as they are they these spreadsheets must be made public in school district web sites. They are the best place for us to document the progress toward curing our dropout crisis.

Please study the Middle School Archive Project ( and the way it uses a large vault bolted to the floor in a school lobby under spotlights. The vault will have 10 shelves inside and function as a 10-year time-capsule for letters 8th graders write to themselves. They know they will not retrieve them until their 10-year class reunion. They know that at that reunion they will be invited to talk with the then current 8th grade classes giving their recommendations for success. Questions such as "Would you do anything differently if you were 13 again?" will be asked.

It appears that thinking ahead about replying to such questions helps students focus on the value of their current studies more easily.

How would you improve this project?