By: Krystle Crossman
A Denver, Colorado school has taken a drastic approach to improving the graduation rate at their school which some may find shocking. The results don’t lie however. In just one year of using isolation rooms for students who have been punished the dropout rate has gone from 13% to 2%. The school had been warned in previous years that if their performance didn’t increase and the dropout rates didn’t decrease they would lose their accreditation.
When a student is punished for an act that would normally end in expulsion for the student such as having a weapon at school or selling drugs on the property, they are placed in a 4×6 foot room and given study materials instead. The parents of the student are given the choice to either have their child placed in one of these rooms or to be expelled from school.
The purpose of the rooms are not only to keep students enrolled at the school but to help them and their classmates get a better education as well. They are out of the classroom so they cannot disrupt the other students. They are in a room where there is very little space to cause trouble in. They are told to either study the materials or they will be expelled from school and so they are learning while they are being punished. As indicated by the reduced dropout rate in just one year, this method seems to work very well.
In the last 10 years there have been 40 students that have been placed in isolation due to punishment. There is a time limit on the amount of time that they can be in these rooms however. The superintendent of the school district, George Welsh, set a limit of eight weeks for high school students, six weeks for middle school, and four weeks for elementary school students. He stated that there are no locks on the doors and this year they have taken the doors off of the rooms completely after complaints were lodged last year. The students that are in the rooms have lunch with the other students, are given a chance to go outside for exercise every day, and are closely supervised.