In September, the doors of Philadelphia's high schools open, welcoming thousands of new students who are feeling the mix of excitement and anxiety that has accompanied every first day of school since the beginning of first days.
Young people in Philadelphia who have left school have most likely experienced one of the defining features of the city's massive dropout problem – the invisibility of out-of-school youth.
Dozens of former students interviewed for this edition of the Notebook said that nobody from their school pursued them when they stopped attending. Some said they got letters or automatic voicemails, but few had any personal contact with the school after leaving.
A recent study looking for predictors of students likely to drop out has found that as early as sixth grade there are powerful warning signs pointing to children at extreme risk.
Following up on the findings, two dozen mini-grants have been awarded for individual, school-based dropout prevention efforts to be implemented in sixth-grade classrooms this fall.