It’s rarely only one factor that drives a student to give up on school, but in recent years, educators have gained ground against a range of contributors, from early absenteeism and reading difficulties to teenage parenthood. Now, schools are working to make inroads against one of the most common and yet elusive reasons students cite for dropping out: They just aren’t motivated to stay in school.
What drives one student to stick it out through four years of high school, while another—perhaps equally talented—fades out of school?
“That’s something educators struggle with,” said Kerry E. Muse, the chief learning officer and head coach of Venture Academy, a Minneapolis charter school that teaches students to become entrepreneurs and build their own inner drive to succeed. “We know that learning is stickier if students have to struggle a little with it, but how do we get them past the hand-holding? Ninety-nine percent of the conflict we have is the student not knowing when you should come to an adult for help and when you should be self-directed.”