Las Vegas Sun

January 25, 2015

Currently: 73° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

the turnaround:

Mixed results reported in district’s effort to get dropouts back to school

Majority of students committing to program still in school, but they represent only a minority of total dropouts


Paul Takahashi

Western High School Principal Neddy Alvarez explains graduation options to senior Cesar Solorio, 17, who stopped attending classes in October. Western High School staff and about 35 volunteers went door to door on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, to encourage 56 students who have dropped out to return to school. The personal home visits are part of a district-wide graduation initiative targeting about 10,000 students at risk of not graduating in June.

Reclaim Your Future at Western HS

Western High School Principal Neddy Alvarez and volunteers go door-to-door, encouraging drop-out students to return to class. Western High School staff and about 35 volunteers went door to door on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, to encourage 56 students who have dropped out to return to school. The personal home visits are part of a district-wide graduation initiative targeting about 10,000 students at risk of not graduating in June. Launch slideshow »

Reclaim Your Future

KSNV coverage of Clark County School District's "Reclaim Your Future" event, Jan. 28, 2012.

A Clark County School District program aimed at getting dropouts to return to school is proving somewhat successful — at least among those students whom officials were able to persuade to get back into the classroom.

The Reclaim Your Future program, launched this year under the leadership of new Superintendent Dwight Jones, was part of the district’s unprecedented effort to increase its abysmal high school graduation rate. In 2011, fewer than half of the state's seniors graduated from high school. Clark County is the largest school district in the state.

Reclaim Your Future sought to change the lives of the hundreds of high school students who disappear from classrooms each year.

At the start of the year, school counselors and attendance officers called homes, tracking down more than 1,000 dropout students and bringing them back to school. Later in the year, the School District — in conjunction with various community partners — began a mentorship program at 10 high schools to help struggling students progress toward graduation.

The signature event and cornerstone of the Reclaim Your Future initiative were two community walks, one in the fall and the other last winter. About 300 school and community volunteers visited the homes of dropout students on a Saturday morning in September and January.

School officials and volunteers encouraged students to stay in school and sought commitments from students to return to campus. At the time, officials heralded the number of commitments they received as a testament to the success of the inaugural initiative.

However, the true measure of success, critics said, lies in the number of students who actually honored their promise to return to school and followed through.

Most of the dropout students who committed to returning to school as part of the Reclaim Your Future walks still remain in school, according to School District officials. However, the vast majority of dropouts could not be reached and did not commit to return to school, officials said.

During the first community walk in September, officials targeted 289 at-risk seniors who dropped out of school. Volunteers were able to get commitments from 28 students, of which 22 returned to school the following week. As of last week, 17 of those students remain in school, district officials said.

During the second community walk in January, officials targeted 346 at-risk juniors and seniors who either dropped out or had high absences. Volunteers were able to get commitments from 59 dropouts, of which 49 are still attending school.

Volunteers also reached out to 135 students who had excessive absences, of which 120 students remain in school.

Despite the mixed results, School District officials said the walks were an important first step toward reaching out to struggling students discouraged by falling behind and overwhelmed by the amount of work they needed to do to catch up.

It gave educators and community members a chance to visit their students’ homes and provide outreach and support to students and family members who in previous years fell through the cracks, officials said.

“The walk and work is worth the effort when students reclaim their future and start to believe that they can achieve again,” said Penny Ramos-Bennett, a School District spokeswoman. “Our ultimate goal for the effort is to no longer need to walk and reclaim students because our students will be in school.”

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 3 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. There is something wrong with this picture. When only 10% of those contacted are staying in school, then there really needs to be an honest evaluation on what needs to change with this program. I speak out of years of experience operating a successful Alternative/Correctional Education Community School in Southern California.

    One of the first things I noticed upon moving to Nevada, was the way the "system" worked. It can only be fixed through the legal system, and quite frankly, Nevada LAWMAKERS don't make $$$$ for their campaigns currying favors with education. No. They have historically and systematically courted the favors and sweet $$$$ for political campaigns through the MINING and GAMING/CASINO RESORT industries. It is a BIG reason why Nevada's education and social management of youth has for over a century, taken a backseat for addressing their needs. Follow the $money$ trail folks!!!

    Less than a century, folks north of Las Vegas, our Nevada pioneering families, were actually taking teachers into their homes/ranches, in order to possess a school for their children. They were more than willing to allow teachers into their lives, they RESPECTED teachers. One such teacher, later went on to run the US Mint. When families are willing to listen to teachers, their children excel. When families close themselves from the teachers working with their children, these children struggle. There needs to be respect and a working relationship, in order to realize success. Continued to next post.....

    Blessings and Peace,

  2. Continued from previous post....

    Education shapes our lives from the cradle to the grave.

    We have an American educational system we are willing to use, but are we really willing to SUPPORT it?

    But go ahead, throw more money at another study or program. People of Nevada, YOU are paying for it: instead of working with those who value our society, cherish knowledge, and gladly bear the responsibility to impart knowledge and educate our citizenry through personally touching life/lives, just find ways to avoid responsibility and contact. Build walls and block out any educational (private or public school) "outsider" you perceive to "invade" your privacy or rights. YOUR attitude about education will either bring you success or failure in life. Can we put a "pricetag" on the value of personal attitude?

    Education is about being personally involved in the learning process. We can directly link the success and failure rates of students by involvement, by them, and also by their parents/guardians.

    Let's give educators the tools they need. Nevada LAWMAKERS are a part of this equation. Educators need responsible LAWMAKERS to legislate enforcement teeth in the PARENT/TEACHER/STUDENT Involvement Accord, a required educational document where all parties MUST agree to, abide, and sign each year, that is found in the mountains of paperwork at the beginning of the school year! There needs to be REAL consequences for when students do not forward school and teacher notifications to their parents/guardians; and consequences when parents/guardians do not respond to required notifications. When teachers take the time to communicate to parents/guardians, it should be taken to heart. The students who are not succeeding, are the ones who have broken lines of communication in nearly every case. LAWMAKERS need to effectively address this and parents/guardians need to be actively involved.

    Until we honestly examine and flush out the barriers to a student's success and achievement, we are settling for LESS that our best efforts. That doesn't rest well with me, and it shouldn't with you.

    Blessings and Peace,

  3. We at applaud the efforts of Clark County officials to get students re-engaged. But the truth is, students are dropping out because they're fleeing bullies; they're parents who can't afford child care; they're overaged and undercredited and don't have a good pathway to recovery. These are not the sort of problems that a home visit is going to fix. Providing flexibility and accessibility will get more students a diploma. Want to learn more? Join the conversation at