Dropout Recovery Helps Students Find Success
The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education gives students the knowledge and skills they need for successful careers, but that’s not all it does.
The CareerTech System also helps students earn high school diplomas – students who might not otherwise graduate. CareerTech’s Dropout Recovery Program helps students who don’t want to stay in high school – or don’t feel they can stay, for whatever reason – earn their high school diplomas and, along the way, gain skills that will help them enter the workforce once they have those diplomas in hand.
“What makes us different from an alternative school is that we have the CareerTech component in addition to the academics,” said Kent Roof, director of the statewide program.
More than 1,000 students attended Dropout Recovery programs last year at nine technology centers: Canadian Valley in El Reno, Central Tech in Drumright and Sapulpa, Francis Tuttle in Oklahoma City, Great Plains in Lawton, Metro Tech in Oklahoma City, Mid-Del in Midwest City, Pioneer in Ponca City, Southern Oklahoma in Ardmore and Tulsa Tech.
Most arrive through a process that starts with what CareerTech calls feeder schools – schools that regularly send students to a technology center.
“The relationship between a tech center and school counselors and administrators allows constant communication about students who can benefit from Dropout Recovery,” Roof explained.
An interview with the student and parents follows. If the student is accepted, the sending school files paperwork designating that student as having dropped out, Roof said.
At Metro Career Academy, part of Metro Tech in Oklahoma City, students are also referred by service agencies that have partnerships with the tech center and some simply arrive on their own, according to Barbara Loudermilk, MCA director. All of them go through the enrollment process of assessments, interviews, references and contracts, however, she said.
“We approach the student and his or her family with a holistic approach of removing barriers to learning and entering college or the world of work,” she said.
Dropout Recovery students spend half of each day on academic programs, either online or teacher-led, and half in CareerTech programs. The students are responsible for their own learning and have more control than in traditional classrooms, which helps many of them stick with it, Roof explained.
“The environment is really conducive to learning,” he said.
Completing the program can offer students financial benefits and also help Oklahoma’s economy.
According to the National Institute for Education Statistics, the median salary for someone without a high school diploma in 2010 was $21,000. The median salary jumps to $29,900 for someone with a high school diploma, to $37,000 for someone with an associate’s degree and to $45,000 for someone with a bachelor’s degree.
In 2011-12, 388 of the students who completed Dropout Recovery earned high school diplomas and 44 earned GEDs. Of those, 260 entered the workforce, 26 entered the military, and 79 enrolled in postsecondary education.
For more information about Dropout Recovery, visit http://www.okcareertech.org/about/state-agency/divisions/skills-centers or contact Kent Roof at 405-334-1049.
By Laura Wilson, Writer/Editor