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March 3, 2010 > Report explores 'dropout crisis'

Report explores 'dropout crisis'

Submitted By Sabrina Williams

Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization, recently released a first-of-its-kind report, "Test, Punish, and Push Out: How Zero Tolerance and High-Stakes Testing Funnel Youth into the School to Prison Pipeline." The report shows that together, zero tolerance and high-stakes testing have turned schools into hostile and alienating environments for many youth, effectively treating them as dropouts-in-waiting.

"The educational opportunities of millions of children across this country are continuously put at risk by zero-tolerance school discipline and high-stakes testing," said Jim Freeman, director of Advancement Project's 'Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track project.' "The devastating end result of these intertwined punitive policies is a 'school-to-prison pipeline,' in which huge numbers of students throughout the country are treated as if they are disposable, and are being routinely pushed out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems."

"Test, Punish, and Push Out" provides an overview of zero-tolerance school discipline and high-stakes testing, how they relate to each other, how laws and policies such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) have made school discipline even more punitive, and the risk faced if these devastating policies are not reformed.

The report explores: The common origins and ideological roots of zero tolerance and high-stakes testing; The current state of zero-tolerance school discipline across the country, including local, state, and national data; How high-stakes testing affects students, educators, and schools; How zero tolerance and high-stakes testing have become mutually reinforcing, combining to push huge numbers of students out of school; and Successful grassroots efforts to eliminate harmful discipline and testing practices.

Also in the report are detailed recommendations for replacing zero-tolerance and high-stakes testing policies with those that will allow all young people to receive a high-quality pre-K-12 education. Included are steps that can be taken at the local, state, and federal levels, such as through the reauthorization process of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB) and the implementation of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("the stimulus").

"There is no easy answer to our nation's 'dropout crisis,' but the one thing that absolutely must happen for this problem to be solved is for every student to be given a full and equal opportunity to receive a high-quality education," concluded Freeman. We must eliminate the use of education policies that set students up to fail, and instead make a smart, long-term investment in our youth by creating a more just educational system for all children."

To download a copy of the report please visit:

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