Since our last report we experienced the disappointment many foster parents know when our former foster daughter 'chose' to turn her back on a wealth of community based support and returned to her former lifestyle of drugs, sexual co-dependency and physical abuse. The timing seemed so bazarre as we wrap up a study and program which we have been developing quietly for several years. How can you quantify the potential for academic success - or failure - and use that as a predictor of success in life?
Through more than twenty years of working with underachieving high school students we have learned two very important lessons. First, there is no simple answer which accounts for the pandemic academic underachievement taking place in this country. Second, we know and acknowledge that there is no silver bullet to 'cure' the disease - current program included.
However, as a by-product of working with foster kids, we have also learned that you can predict with a high degree of accuracy the propensity for any given student to overcome all the barriers s/he faces and reach the stars of excellence - in school and life. Based upon decades of research, testing and monitoring, there is a treasure of instruments and programs which point to the answer(s). Using many of these resources, START 2 Achieve has been developing a tool which can help everyone involved in the process determine 1) what barriers students face in their academic endeavors and 2) which programs/approaches are likely to yield the most success in each individual situation.
While we are still about 5-6 months away from releasing our findings and our instrument, we are pleased to say that this will become an integral part of our efforts to personalize all of our academic coaching strategies in the future. The most exciting discovery which we can share at this time is that the most effective constant in overcoming barriers lies in teams vs. individual struggles. Relationships are so critical in the education process that it is easy to forget that programs are only as effective as the relationships which grow out of the programs. We, at START 2 Achieve, look forward to sharing the successes to be targeted through the use of our programs and our tools used to implement them.
We believe that a paradigm shift in academic achievement for foster kids is long overdue and that it is a fact that they have as much potential as traditional family based youth. It is our job to empower them to discover it and pursue their personal potential.