Best Practice 31

Jump@School – testing a model to contrast early school leaving

The direct target group were students in secondary school at the age from 14 – 17 years who have been identified as at risk of early school leaving because of their grades. In the four school 120 students were identified. 60 students per school were randomly assigned to one group to be addressed with different measures and activities. The other 60 students didn’t take part in these measures and built a control group for the evaluation of the project.

Jump @ school is an EU funded project under the Lifelong Learning Programme with a duration of three years (2014-2017). Ten partners from 6 countries (Italy, Austria, Germany, Poland, Spain and Turkey) four schools and 480 students aged 14 to 17 years old have been involved. The underlying idea of this project was to develop a strategy to prevent early school leaving by testing an innovative intervention model in schools and assessing its impact on the attitude of students, considered at risk of early school leaving, towards school.

The final goal of the process was to provide some insights, recommendations and useful suggestions for the definition of vocational training and education policies capable of preventing and countering early school leaving (ESL), also in the light of the new challenges posed by the current socio-economic scenario in Europe (economic crisis, high youth unemployment rates, migration issues)

In order to define the operational model, the project partners collected and analysed models to prevent early school leaving realised and/or in progress in their countries as well as in some other European countries. From 38 collected best practices 14 were deemed as most interesting for the definition of a model applicable to the Jump@school project and were defined in more detail following a standardised template. From these themes, the use of laboratories, case management and vocational guidance were chosen to be discussed in more detail as it was felt that they met the following criteria best: transferability, standardisation, randomisation and cost. Finally, a tailor-made model based on the case management and some group activities was chosen for the Jump@School project.

Activities in the framework of this project are offered to pupils from four schools: two in Italy and two in Spain; within and outside the school. Given the nature of the project and the consequent financial limitations, it was not possible to propose activities to all students. Therefore, pupils were randomly selected to take part in the scheme, whereby those selected were involved to different degrees: some in individual and group activities and to fill in some questionnaires, some did only complete a couple of questionnaires and others were not involved in any of these activities.

The activities were conducted by operators experienced in educational work with young people. They are called “JumpOs”, from the project’s name.

The activities included:

    • Individual sessions, which are very important to customise the proposed activities according to the characteristics and preferences of each individual pupil.
    • Creative workshops, which allow students to express themselves through music,
      videos, narrative, photography, cooking, etc. …
    • Activities with associations and organisations in the region, which students can participate following their interests, outside school hours
    • Group activities, which include: the kick-off meeting, guided tours, theme days and final party.

To understand whether The Jump@school intervention had a statistically significant impact on some risk factors of early school leaving, it was evaluated using a counterfactual approach; specifically the two-group pretest-posttest design. This entailed the selection of a sample of students at risk of early school leaving and their random assignment to either the experimental/intervention/treatment group or to the control group thereby representing the counterfactual scenario). Data generated from a questionnaire completed by both groups at two points in time (before and after the intervention) were then compared to generate the impact of the intervention. The resulting findings were supplemented by a qualitative assessment of the action investigating the perceptions and the opinions of the actors involved. These findings formed the basis of the lessons learned.

There is no firm evidence that the intervention impacted the grades that students achieved at the end of the academic year in comparison to the control group, except of one school. These unexpected results might be explained with the relatively short period for the implementation of the interventions.

But the qualitative evaluations showed relevant changes and impact of the project that are likely to have a longterm impact for the students. So the evaluation showed for the majority of the students in all schools a positive impact on the following:

More than half of the participants agreed (32.03%) or agreed strongly (23.53%) that the Jump@School Project helped them to learn to study. In this case, Spanish participants more readily agreed or strongly agreed with this statement as compared to participants in the Italian schools.

Also most participants agreed (37.91%) or strongly agreed (26.08%) with the statement that the Jump@school project helped them to gain confidence in their self. Again the students in the Spanish schools more readily agreed or strongly agreed with this statement as compared to those in the Italian schools.
And another impact can be seen where most of the students responding to the evaluation questions that they agreed or agreed strongly with this statement “Jump@school helped me to develop goals for my future professional life”. In total 65.36% of the students agreed, and around 31% of the participants neither agreed nor disagreed with this item.

Although the impact of Jump@School in the hard factors such as grade an attendance was not measurable in the time of the evaluation there has been a positive impact on the well-being of many students and the project gave more insight into the complexity of the issue of early school leaving and.

Besides the statements of the students that they enjoyed the activities, that they built new relationships to peers that they didn’t know before and feeling more self-confident they were strongly fascinated by the JumpOperators. The students of all schools felt respected and
welcome, and have attributed the quality of this relationship not only to the personality and skills of the JumpOperators, but also to the difference perceived between these professionals and teachers, psychologists or other professionals already involved in schools. Moreover, students indicated that they found concrete support in JumpOperators, when they were uncertain about what decisions to take, and, as a consequence, they felt more secure and positive in the school environment. Thanks to these exchanges with the JumpOperators, they were able to discover skills and sides to their personalities that they had not reflected on before.

So this project can give important insights about the phenomenon of early school leaving and recommendations for further actions implemented in this field. Especially the figure of the Jump@Operator should be part of future interventions. A significant change will probably not be reached unless there are also changes on the policy level. The project’s experience concretely showed, for instance, that in the Italian and Spanish school systems no systematic and timely collection of data on students’ absences exists, and these data are only collected late in the school year.

So a recommendation of jump@school is that, political decisionmakers, institutions responsible for educational policies at the regional and national level should establish, as soon as possible, starting from the local and regional level permanent databeses on some key school dropout predictors for example absences, behavior, average grades etc. and they should cooperate with schools-headmasters, teachers, supporting staff – to define indicators data collection methods and clarify intended use, granting an active role to all the actors involved.

Children & Family Policy

 Access to the labour market

 Education

 

 

□ Study Visits

□ Others

The Jump@School project is related to MINGLE in a sense that it builds a lot on the social factor and individualized activities to improve the situation of the target group.

The partnership was built by 10 partners in 6 countries. The measures have been implemented in four schools. Two schools in Spain in Valencia and two schools in Italy, located in Iglesias and Tortoli in the Autonomous Region of Sardinia.

Name: Elena Grilli

Organisation: MetropolisNet

Telephone:

Email: elena.grilli@metropolisnet.eu

www.jumpatschool.eu

From the technical coordinator, Ciofs-FP:

Tiziana Piacentini, tpiacentini@ciofs-fp.org