The current dropout rate for Chicago Public Schools is 45 percent, so almost half of all freshmen who start out in Chicago Public Schools high schools do not receive their high school diploma.
Tired of those grim statistics, they are launching a new pilot program that specifically targets freshmen. The group of students leading the initiative is VOYCE -- Voices of Youth in Chicago Education -- made up of youth leaders from Chicago Public Schools, high schools, and community organizations in Chicago.
As part of the program, at-risk incoming freshmen will attend one retreat just before high school and go on two more freshmen year to build bonds with peers and teachers and work on four-year graduation plans, CPS chief Arne Duncan announced.
Students will give input at their schools on what they're learning, and how they're learning it, on everything from textbooks to teaching techniques. Duncan has even agreed to help students advise curriculum vendors on how to make textbooks more relevant.
"Students are a huge part of the answer. I want to do everything I can to continue to empower them to help themselves and help their peers," Duncan said.