Daily Video

June 10, 2013

Can Teachers Prevent Dropouts?

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In Chicago, 23 of the school district’s high schools have taken an unconventional approach to increasing the number of students who graduate from high school – and college – by partnering with OneGoal, a non-profit educational organization that focuses on low-income underperforming students.

“We’re taking underperforming students that typically have a less than 10 percent chance of earning a bachelor’s degree and right now 85 percent of our alumni in college are persisting,” said OneGoal CEO Jeff Nelson.

OneGoal’s approach is to pair a group of 25 students with a teacher for three years, starting in their junior year of high school. This means that the students will still be in constant contact with their OneGoal teacher for their first year out of high school; a measure meant to make sure that the students continue to receive support in college.

The teachers focus on three main goals: prepping students for college admission tests, guiding them as they apply to college and helping them develop specific leadership skills.

This helped student Anthony Halmon turn things around after becoming a new father and getting into academic trouble during his sophomore year. Now he is in the final running for a full-ride scholarship to Cornell University.

“My OneGoal teacher, she always encouraged me, like, if you don’t want to do nothing for yourself, then do something for your baby, make a life for her. You always want your child to have a better life than you already have, so it’s like she’s part of my motivation,” he said.


“The five leadership principles that we spend time working on are professionalism, ambition, resilience, integrity, and resourcefulness. The reason those five skills are important to us is because those five working in concert are predictive of success in college,” – Jeff Nelson, OneGoal.

Warm up questions

1. What motivates you to stay in school?

2. Why is school important?

3. What are some reasons why students might drop out of school?

Discussion questions

1. What solutions did you see in this video? Which do you think would be most effective? Why?

2. How are your challenges similar and different from the challenges faced by the students in the video?

3. Why do you think it’s important that students graduate? Why don’t teachers want students to drop out? Principals? Parents? Local business owners?

4. What is your school doing to make sure students don’t drop out?

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