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    The high school graduation rate is a barometer of the health of American society and the skill level of its future workforce (1). However, research shows -- a students' circumstances do not dictate success -- educational experiences do.

    Today, one out of every four Michigan students fail to graduate from public high school with his or her freshman class. Students who drop out of school lack the tools to compete in today's global economy and diminish their chances for greater success in the future.

    Research shows most students send distress signals years before they drop out of school. In fact, key early warning signs displayed by students nearing or entering transitional school years, such as 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grades, have proven to be strong dropout predictors. Early warning signs include the A-B-C's: A-Attendance, B-Behavior, and C-Course performance. These have an 80% accuracy rate of predicting risk of dropout and a 90% accuracy rate of predicting graduation rates within four years.


    During the summer of 2009, I issued a challenge to all Michigan schools to identify 10-15 students in all elementary, middle and high schools who are nearing or in a transition year with multiple dropout risk factors and provide research-based supports and interventions. As a result, over 1,300 schools including all schools in 170 districts have accepted this Challenge.

    A recent study confirms that schools in the Challenge have statistically significant lower dropout rates than those not yet part of the Challenge. In addition, reports from Challenge districts and schools indicate this Challenge has made a difference in thousands of student and educator lives.


    While having nearly 1/3 of all schools sign up for the Challenge is impressive, all schools and districts would benefit from accepting this challenge. Therefore, I am issuing a NEW CALL TO JOIN THIS CHALLENGE.

    For new Challenge takers, signing up is easy and can be done by completing a short survey at the following link:

    IF YOUR BUILDING OR DISTRICT HAS BEEN PART OF THE CHALLENGE IN THE PAST, NO FURTHER ACTION IS NECESSARY AT THIS TIME. You will automatically be re-enrolled. If your school/district is new, you should enroll. If a single building, explore if your district would like to have all of its schools participate.

    For more information contact Jill Thompson, Secretary, School Improvement Support Unit, at (517)373-4226 or via email at

    Mike Flanagan

    State Superintendent


Schools Participating in Challenge

Challenge Information and Resources

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Building Dropout Calculation Information& Tools


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