Frequently Asked Questions

QUESTION: How significant is the dropout problem and why should it be addressed?

ANSWER: When a student drops out of school it is a personal tragedy. Graduation opens the doors to opportunity and economic success, while dropping out almost always closes those same doors.  College graduates can be expected to earn well over twice what a high school dropout will make during their working careers.   In the three Western states, at least one out of every five students will not graduate with their classmates. The number of students dropping out across the United States each year is at scandalously high levels which represents a real threat to our national security and jeopardizes our place of leadership in a global economy. 

QUESTION: How can we accurately  identify those students at risk of not graduating on time, early enough to focus our dropout intervention efforts?

ANSWER: TruNorth Research has developed a sophisticated methodology to identify which students are at greatest risk of failing to graduate.  We use a proprietary research based model developed over time and using many thousands of student cases.  The model uses multiple metrics that school districts routinely collect.  Applying our model allows us to identify each of your high school students by name and provides a probability index that the individual will fail to graduate with their classmates.  Once you know the level of risk associated with each student, you can focus your dropout prevention efforts effectively on the right students in order to maximize your success. 

The predictive ability of the TruNorth At Risk Indicator is accurate, accounting for almost all of the variability in the prediction.  Routinely, when the TruNorth model is applied to a district, it correctly identifies 95% of the at-risk students.  Remember, a prediction is not a sentence or a certainty.   Intervention can bend the curve and overcome the probabilities, but only if a focused, timely and effective strategy is employed. 

QUESTION: How does TruNorth Early Warning Dropout Prediction System work?

ANSWER: TruNorth asks the district to provide an electronic file containing a small number of demographic and transcript variables for each recent 8th or 9th grade completer.  This is information that districts routinely collect, so no special data collection effort is required of your district staff.   TruNorth staff will conduct the analysis and provide a comprehensive report including a list of students with an At-Risk Indices for each student.   Names will be listed in priority order, with those at greater risk being listed first.  This list should be immediately useful to school professionals tasked with preventing dropouts from occurring.

The predictive power of the TruNorth Prediction Model also allows for a subsequent evaluation of your intervention strategies by comparing the predicted dropout rate to the actual.  Optionally, after one or more of the classes included in the analysis has graduated, the district may contract with TruNorth Research to conduct and evaluation of the districts dropout prevention effort.

QUESTION: What are the underlying reasons school districts want to keep kids in school?

ANSWER: There is an economic incentive for districts to keep their students attending school.   In most states, district funding is directly dependent on the number of students attending.  State ADA funding typically exceeds $8,000 per student enrolled for the year.  Even one student prevented from dropping out represents a significant economic benefit to the district. 

Federal regulations associated with accountability are increasingly including incentives to reduce dropout rates.  “No Child Left Behind” and subsequent versions of the Federal accountability program take dropout rates into account to determine when schools are making adequate yearly progress. Last and certainly not least, keeping students in school is seeking the best for them.  It is just the right thing to do, and schools and districts should make every effort to encourage on time graduation.

QUESTION: What does the TruNorth Research Prediction Services cost?

ANSWER: A complete analysis of recent 8th or 9th grade completers in a district can be purchased for $9,800, which is approximately equivalent to the state annual funding for one student during a school year.

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