Westerville City Schools' Educational Opportunities for Success (EOS) has recently been identified as a model program for dropout prevention by the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N). EOS received the highest research rating of Strong Evidence of Effectiveness, a rank reserved for model programs that have been in existence for three or more years. Programs were evaluated using an experimental design conducted by an external evaluation team and have strong empirical evidence demonstrating program effectiveness in reducing dropout and/or increasing graduation rates and/or having significant impact on dropout-related risk factors. Of the more than 350 programs identified in the model database, 105 were distinguished with the highest rating of effectiveness. This is further evidence that for the last 13 years, EOS would appear to be a very strong community asset for Westerville with the program having continued success in producing high school graduates from highly at-risk youth.
Dr. Ed Lentz, evaluation consultant from the University of Cincinnati, noted, “As a prevention program, EOS would be classified as having a secondary or tertiary prevention focus – the former for students who have developed some sort of problem predicting failure to graduate (overage/under-credited or expelled) and the latter for those who have already dropped out. Success with these groups has proven very difficult in general; yet, EOS success is clear and is repeated every academic year.”
Because EOS is a program and not a school, participating students are still assigned to their home high school of record, even though their work is completed at the Alternative Learning Center. The work they complete, as well as state test results, are reflected in that home high school’s data when it is reported to the state. The EOS program is intended to serve the needs of three distinct groups of at risk high school students by providing a highly structured and supportive alternative instructional setting, an alternative instructional delivery system (on-line), and tiered (based on the degree of student needs) support services. The purposes of the program are to:
- Assist targeted groups in improving problem behaviors;
- Either remediate deficits in earned credits or to allow expelled students to continue to earn credits; and
- When appropriate, provide assistance towards passing all graduation tests.
The overall goals are to prevent highly at risk students from dropping out of school or to allow students who have already dropped out to return to school and graduate. Of the 1,276 students who have participated in EOS since its inception, 147 (11%) have withdrawn from school; 73 (6%) have transferred to another school district; 903 (71%) have graduated; 88 (6%) remain enrolled in EOS or their home high school; and 65 (6%) have met all graduation requirements except the passage of state-mandated graduation tests or the completion of a physical education class.
Dr. Steve Coolahan, EOS Program Manager, said, “This recognition validates our efforts and our strong evidence rating provides a level of support that places our dropout prevention program among some of the most effective programs in the country.”
The mission of the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network is to increase high school graduation rates through research and evidence-based solutions. Since 1986, the NDPC/N has promoted the awareness of successful programs and policies related to dropout prevention through its clearinghouse function, active research projects, publications, third-party evaluations, and Program Assessment and Reviews (PAR).