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A high school drop-out prevention program for the at-risk sophomore students.

Peter Drucker, father of management (1989), insists that schools need to change and begin to prepare students for the "world of tomorrow." He insists that we are in a social and technological revolution that will drastically changed the meaning of education and the art of teaching. The American economy is rapidly shifting from heavy industry to high technology goods and services, and schools will need to change more than in the last 300 years. Drucker insists that the critical point for change is that "knowledge" is rapidly becoming our true capital base and premier wealth producing resource. In order to prepare for this post-business society in the brave new world, education will be everything. Here the worker will know more about h/her area of expertise than the boss, and, thus, an associate rather than a subordinate. In this new world direction will come from within, not from above, and always through interaction among colleagues at all levels.

High School Drop-Out Problem

In this "brave new world" Drucker paints, the consequence to society where the high school drop-out rate becomes crucial and important in relation to competitiveness and our economy. One million of the two million prison inmates are high school drop-outs, and for many of them it means manpower never to be regained. First, and most important for all inmates "truth and creditability" of the individual is lost forever, and second because 80 percent of inmates are addicted to alcohol or drugs, and the success rate of addiction rehabilitation is low (around 15% success), much manpower is lost. High School Principals across our nation must take immediate action to prevent such high school drop-outs before there is the contagion of being a prison inmate with lack of trust, and before there is the loss of manpower through addiction.

Identifying the At-risk students

Today in America one million of the two million prison inmates are high school dropout students, and the primary reason for their dropping out of school is a general lack of personal development. The Personal Development Test (PDT) was administered to 1,005 of such incarcerated Juvenile Delinquents and adult prison inmates (about equally divided). A comparison was made between the scores of that 1,005 inmates and 2,131 typical individuals. Every single PDT score showed a statistically significant lack of personal; development for those inmates. It is clear that an absence of personal development is the basic cause for students who dropout of high school, and the second million of our two million prison inmates are largely college drop-out students who show the same lack of personal development.

Third Force Psychology

Third Force Psychology is quite new (since the 1960s) in relation to the understanding of human behavior, human development, and learning. It has little or no interest in rats like First Force Psychology, or sick people like Second Force Psychology. The individual is considered to be an intellectual thinking planning person where full responsibility for the action takes place through own personal decision making; as opposed to the "contingency management" action in First Force Psychology, where all thinking and planning was done by others; usually a generation or two older (Cassel,2000a).

Typically, the activity begins with a very careful analysis of where he/she presently is in relation to the problem at hand--their own ego-status. This is followed by just as careful an analysis of the full range of alternatives in relation to same problem of where they would like to be or go-their "ego-ideal." It involves a continuous process of personal decision making, and where there is a testing of one alternative after another to formulate an acceptable and functional ego-ideal. When one or more ego-ideals has been established, then the problem becomes one of planning the best way to achieve that ego-ideal, and the building of a bridge from the ego-status to the ego-ideal (Cassel, 1986).

Things don't simply happen in this world; rather, people make things happen. Goals and personal plans of individuals always serve as the most productive and largely the only way to cause things to happen. The personal motivation of individuals derives largely from goal-striving; so the goals must be carefully thought through and personally accepted for motivation to emerge. Our prisons are filled with individuals who never had a chance to go through this process for the identification of an acceptable ego-ideal.

Drop-Out Prevention Program

After The Personal Development Test (PDT) is administered to the entering freshmen in every high school across the nation, where the "at-risk" students are carefully identified. All such students with a PDT-TOT score (T-Score) of 45 or less, using the appropriate youth norm (male for males and female for females) are to be given the Drop-Out Prevention Program." It is typically about six weeks long, for which the student receives appropriate high school credit. It is taught by select school counselors under the immediate supervision of a Boarded School Psychologist Reilly & Cassel, 2000). The High School Personal Development Course (Cassel, 2002a) was carefully designed for this purpose. The course begins by having the counselor first collectively providing explanation of the PDT Scores to all students who just finished taking the test; this is always followed by provisions for each individual to have explanations as requested.

Self-efficacy & High Aspirations

Bandura (1993, and 1997) insists that if people believe that they have no power to produce results, they will not attempt to make things happen. Outcomes are always a product of human actions, or failure to act. Outcomes people anticipate depend largely on their judgment of how well they will be able to perform in a given situation-their expectations. Self-efficacy, then, for Bandura is a personal judgment of one's ability to organize and execute given types of performances. People may use their efficacy to adapt to their environment or to change it, but the self-assurance with which they approach and manage difficult tasks determines largely whether they make good use of their capabilities. Insidious self-doubts can easily over-ride the best of skills.

People with high efficacy not only prefer normatively difficult activities but also display high staying power in those pursuits. The more encompassing the social milieu to which they gravitate, the more the course of their life is affected. The stronger people's belief in their efficacy, the more career options they consider possible, the greater the interest they show in them, the better they prepare themselves educationally for different occupations or careers, and the greater the staying power in the chosen pursuits.

Positive Assertiveness

First, it is important that we understand what it means to be assertive, and then we can try to understand the difference between the positive and negative approaches. The dictionary says: "assertive means to put one's self forward boldly and insistently." It is clear that to be assertive means to be involved, and that personal action is always initiated in relation to such involvement. Things don't simply happen in this world; rather people make things happen, and whether or not what happens is for the better or worse for an individual is determined largely on whether or not it involves "assertiveness;" and second-and most important-to be sure that the assertiveness is "positive" in nature (Cassel and Blackwell. (2002a) College Student Journal.

It should be clearly recognized that "assertiveness" ranges from "positive assertiveness' through "non assertiveness" to "negative assertiveness." The selection of which one of these choices one makes impacts more favorably on the personal development and later success in life than anything else that one does. The problem, then, is for our youth to understand the difference between the three different approaches to life, and more specifically what to expect from different choices as a consequence; so they can make a clear judgment of which choice to select.

Since we learned that "assertiveness" means putting one's self forward boldly and insistently, it is clear that both positive and negative assertiveness have that same quality. The real question, then, is what makes "positive" assertiveness" different from "negative assertiveness." Positive assertiveness means that an individual is involved in a very specific direction, but always in relation to expected positive outcomes from such involvement. In general, positive consequences means future growth in a direction toward being more prepared for the life in the later adult world. Typically, this often means a willingness to forego some immediate pleasure in order to gain greater stature to face the many crisis states in that future world of tomorrow (Cassel & Blackwell, 2002b).

Negative assertiveness more often than not, is group oriented, and it means following the group, and believing that other more assertive individuals can serve one's personal goals better than self. It means "following the leader" who has become a kind of role model for early development beyond the usual, and promises delivery of gains by other than legal and morally accepted means. As often as not, such promises are really false and never delivered, and when, and if delivered, the price one pays is excessive in nature. More often than not that price includes personal pain and sorry in high degrees; not only in terms of real money, but in terms of prestige and achievement; too often there is little or no consideration about the illegal involvements and possible consequences for such choice.

The absence of "assertiveness" is not unusual in the world of the teenager and while growing up, and largely because of the fear of making a negative move, or an action that is in a direction that would not benefit the individual personally (Maier, 1949). Often it is created by over caution of making a mistake in life and causing something to happen that is at odds to one's good and sound growth and development.

Scientific Decision Making

Of all the things that an individual learns in a whole life time, scientific decision making serves to benefit one more than anything else. It is so critical to later success in life that it serves as the very best way to reduced delinquency and crime. Failure to provide scientific decision making skills to our youth must be considered to be child abuse of the highest order by the high school principal. If success in life depends largely on one's decision making skills, a failure to provide such skills as a preparation for life is a very serious matter, and must be considered as such by parents, and even the child as h/she grows older.

The first and most important element in scientific decision making has to do with "locus of control" as described by Rotter (1966) and others. It is not your mother or your sister or your brother, but you alone that must make each and every important decision in life. It begins with the "setting of goals," and there is no substitute for the scientific process in this connection. This is followed by a very careful examination of "constraints," and this means what would be the consequence if one did not elect certain choices. Only after one has carefully considered the "constraints" is one ready to consider the scientific process. If the constraints are too great, there is no need for a scientific process (Pfeiffer, 1965)..

Typically, people fall into one of three types of individuals: (1) those who consider only extreme conditions-militants, (2) those who consider the opposite of extremes-passives, and (3) the great mass of people who are typically "middle of the road" type individuals. Each of these types of individuals are often so extreme in their views that they will not consider any other choice that falls outside of their particular perspective, i.e., militant, only the militant type examples; the passive ones, only passive examples, and maybe the most severe ones for lack of broader choices are the "middle of road" type, who would not consider anything except in the "middle of road" range. In scientific decision making the first and basic rule is that a "full range" of choices from "militant" through "middle of the road" to include "passive" must be the rule, and there can be no exceptions.

When the full range of alternatives are identified, each one of the choices must be carefully examined and evaluated in relation to expected outcomes. Here in realistic fashion there is an examination of the likely outcome if each particular choice were to be made.

Only after one has considered the likely outcomes of a particular choice does the individual in realistic fashion consider the usual hazards, and what might keep success from taking place. Hazards are real and they must be weighed carefully before accepting the decision as being final.

After one has considered the likely consequences and the usual hazards of the full range of choices, one is ready to select the three best and most promising choices for achievement own personal goals. These choices are then ranked from most promising to the least promising, and as Choices #1, #2, and #3.

Clearly, "the proof of the pudding is always in the eating," and scientific decision making is no exception to this golden rule; the #1 choice is tried to see how well it really works.. Always, there is a careful observation of the degree to which the first choices is delivering what it has promised to deliver, and this is the actual goal of individual involved. Careful examination is made to determine if it has failed, why it has failed; if it has achieved the expected goal or outcome, why has it achieved. When, and if the first choice has failed, the 2nd choice is given the same test.

Crisis States in Social Order

In 2001 the Terrorists' destruction of the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon Building with heavy loss of life has created a crisis state in our social order around the world. Our typical high school youth have shown unusual signs of depression and threats of suicide, and health care providers are the natural and logical means for dealing with such problems. This includes Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and the family physicians; always they must work as a team, and where the family members are made part of that team.

Family Physician and Calming Drugs

Often the symptoms in such crisis states includes a wide array of symptoms typically including the digestive tract, head aches, depression, and sometimes a wide array of other physical symptoms. The family physician is called on immediately to deal with health problems in relation to the physical well being of such individuals. More often than not h/she will provide immediate health care using the appropriate prescription drugs, and whatever health care is necessary for the relief of the manifest problems..

Psychologist or Psychiatrist

Immediately when anti-depression drugs are prescribed a health care provider qualified in the psychology or psychiatric area of expertise must be provided. This is the only kind of care that can deal with such crisis states in both children and adults. It is not something that can be put off with the expectations of immediate positive change, but must be dealt with in the here and now (Cassel & Blackwell, 2002c).

It is often necessary for the continued use of such anxiety laden drugs co-incident with the psychological/psychiatric care being provided. Further need for such drugs must be carefully weighed each new day, and with a clear goal of finding other means for relieving the stress for which such drugs are used. Often this means an intermission type care program where the drug is administered only where there is a clear sign of its need.

Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs are typically associated with crisis states, and they most be dealt with in an effective and orderly manner as one of the first and most important aspect in need of treatment. Here the treatment is typically of two definite types, and the degree and timing of such use serves as the basis for which of the two approaches is to be utilized; as well as when in the treatment process. Where addiction is clearly evident it means that the individual should be confined to an appropriate medical facility for purposes of the treatment applied (Galanter and Kleber, 2001). This may include tobacco as well as alcohol and drugs, and the time for the treatment is immediate (Piasecki & Newhouse, 1999). The second approach is used whenever no evidence of addiction is present. Such treatment is typically educational in nature, with personal counseling as to the likely later consequence of the problem. The treatment for youth typically begins with providing education concerning the risks involved in such use in relation to health and longevity.

A recent national research study (Banks, et. al., 200l).insists that Democratic Societies are fragile and are works in progress. Their existence depends on thoughtful citizenry that believe in the equality and acceptance of people from all different races and religions. This suggests that students need to learn how to perceive, understand, and respond to group differences, and need to learn not to give offense, and not to take offense in relation to racial nuances. There are always some distinctive cultural behaviors that are typically associated with different cultural groups, and in a democracy those differences must be respected and tolerated by each other. This is true whether it is the way they wear their hair, the type of clothes they wear, the food they eat, or who their friends are, etc. Children who respect themselves and others who are different are less likely to be violent. They need to be taught early in life about the urgency and immediate need to respect others who are different, and to accept as friends and coworkers children of different races, religions, and color.

The research has demonstrated repeatedly that no person every commits suicide so long as there is evidence of one sympathetic companion being present. It is important that along with the prescription drugs for allaying anxiety being prescribed by the family physician, there is an immediate need for appropriate health care by a competent psychologist. Early in the treatment agenda there is immediate provision to build a personal relationship as a sympathetic companion. This is only temporary, and for the long-term care there needs to be provisions of one or more sympathetic companion of similar age and gender. Typically, this is done through the individual counseling, but sometime parents and others must become involved in the process.

All children have a need for singing and music as a means of fostering their emotional development. For children or youth in a crisis state, the need for music, band, chorus, and church choir are immediate and urgent. Too often these facilities are rather select in nature, and sometimes it means the creation of experiences for an individual that involve music, singing, etc., but always there is added effect when such experiences are in concert where the team spirit is developed--band, chorus, glee club, and the like.

Prison Inmates Show High Incidents of Addiction

Repeated research clearly indicates that about 80 percent of the two million prison inmates in our country are addicted to alcohol or drugs. This means they seek to escape into the world of dreams and irresponsibility by using alcohol or drugs as a kind of escape mechanism. Their need to escape into that dream world is directly associated with the general absence of personal development. When rehabilitation programs are provided related to substance abuse, few of them are able to escape the habits they have developed. This means that the nation's manpower shortage is being decreased accordingly, and that our high schools must take immediate action to correct this national problem (Cassel, 1992).

Failing School Leadership

Voltaire insisted that "An institution is the lengthened shadow of one person, the leader or administrator." The principal is that one person in our high schools across America, and h/she alone must take the necessary action to prevent such drop-outs. It is clear that the "at-risk" students can be identified by using The Personal Development Test, and then implementing correction programs, by competently trained personnel, to prevent the drop-out from taking place.. Such preventive programs must be accomplished early in the high school years when the youth are trying to make the transition from child to adult. When and if h/she fails to do so, it is high time to get another principal..

Boarded School Psychologist

The identification of such High-Risk" for purpose of providing prevention programs is clearly psychological in nature. The principal lacking element in the "high-risk" student is lack of personal development. In the health care arena, typically medical doctors with supervisory assignments hold the Diplomate in their medical specialty. The programs in personal development that are effective are very technical in nature, and only a Boarded School Psychologist (not unlike the medical arena), should be providing dropout prevention programs, but always with full support and involvement of the school counselors (full team approach) (Reilly & Cassel, 2000).

Psychiatric Problems

Typically, most of the incarcerated Juvenile Delinquents and Prison Inmates are psychiatric type patients. This means that their problem has to do with Cognitive Dissonance (personal hurts deep in the unconscious) that prevent them from functioning as productive individuals (Festinger, 1957). The psychological theory for dealing cognitive dissonance is covered rather thoroughly in Second Force Psychology.

Second Force Psychology

Second Force Psychology is presently the theory underlying the use of psychoanalysis throughout the health care facilities of the world, and serves as the principal means for health care with individuals displaying psychiatric disorders (Taylor, 1962). It derives directly from the early work of Sigmund Freud where "free association" is the technique for revealing areas and nature of hurts lying deep in the unconscious. Such hurts are believed to be directly associated with different areas of one's life space where personal needs have not been well gratified. The theory in Second Force Psychology follows that when the individual is fully aware of such areas of one's life space that foster such unconscious hurts, the individual on a conscious level can seek to find personal ways to relieve the hurts that are present. In December 1949 the New York Times did a survey to identify the 10 greatest contributions to society during the entire first half of the 20th century, from 1900 to 1950- from the Victorian Age to the Atomic Age, and the "free association" concept of Freud was considered to be the greatest for that period of time (Commager, 1949). Today, around the world psychoanalysis based on Second Force Psychology serves as the basis for treatment of psychiatric disorders and mentally sick people (Taylor, 1962).

The Cognitive Dissonance Test (DISS)

It was Leon Festinger of Stanford University (1957) who introduced "Cognitive Dissonance" as a substitute for "Free Association" and defined it as "feelings of unpleasantness" which an individual possesses lying deep in the unconscious, and where the individual seldom if ever realizes the reasons for such feelings. The Cognitive Dissonance Test (DISS) (Cassel & Chow, 2002) was developed based on the Festinger theory to serve as a means for helping individuals discover the areas and nature of "cognitive dissonance" typically lying deep in the unconscious; so that on a conscious level they might help to plan for ways to eliminate such hurts. The DISS test is comprised of 200 true/false type items that are distributed with 25 in each of the eight part scores. One item, for example reads "Is your home warm and friendly?" If the answer is "Yes," then there is no "Cognitive Dissonance" present, but if the answer is "No," then there is clear evidence of "cognitive dissonance" being present. Four of the eight part scores are included within the Internal and Personal areas of life; while the other four are included in the External and Impersonal areas of one's life space. A Confluence Score (CON) is included to insure that the items are really read, and/or understood.

Measuring Cognitive Dissonance

In Table 3 below The Cognitive Dissonance Test (DISS) was administered to 460 Incarcerated Juvenile Delinquents, and a comparison was made between their scores and corresponding scores of 1,275 Typical Individuals. The Juvenile Delinquents showed statistically significant higher "Cognitive Dissonance" on every single score of the DISS test than corresponding scores for typical individuals. This means that their dissonance has spread across all areas, and which is a typical pattern for individuals addicted to alcohol or drugs.

I. Internal & Personal:

1. Home & Family--HOM

2. Inner Development--INN

3. Personal Adjustment--PER

4. Health & Well-being--HEA

Part I Total--IPTOT

II. External & Impersonal:

5. School & Learning--SCH

6. Social Affiliation--SOC

7. Survival & Power--SUR

8. Racial & Class--RAC

Part II Total--EITOT

DISS Total Score--DISTOT

Confluence Score--CON


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Author:Cassel, Russell N.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2003
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