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2015-2016 Modified Allowable Growth Application
for Dropout Prevention
Due Date: December 15, 2014
Iowa Code subsections 257.38-41

Information Regarding the Use of Modified Allowable Growth for Dropout Prevention
What is Modified Allowable Growth?
Purpose for using MAG-DoP
Setting Priorities
Providing a Tiered System of Supports
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What is Modified Allowable Growth for Returning Dropouts and Dropout Prevention Programs?
Modified Allowable Growth for Dropout Prevention (MAG-DoP) is a funding mechanism to assist districts in providing targeted services and programs for students at a local level. The money that is levied and the 25% local match become categorical funding and is to be used specifically for the purpose of providing programming for students identified as returning and potential dropouts.
"Categorical funding" as defined by the 281 – IAC Chapter 281.98, means financial support from state and federal governments that is targeted for particular categories of students, special programs, or special purposes. This support is in addition to school district or area education agency general purpose revenue, is beyond the basic educational program, and most often has restrictions on its use. Where categorical funding requires a local match, that local match also is considered to be categorical funding. Categorical funding includes both grants in aid and budgetary allocations. Although grants in aid and budgetary allocations are both categorical funding, they are defined separately to distinguish unique characteristics of each type of categorical funding. Chapter 281.98 describes appropriate uses of grants in aid, budgetary allocations and tax levies and funds. In addition Chapter 281.98 also addresses indirect cost recovery, restriction on supplanting, mandatory carry forward, discontinued funding, expenditures, restriction on duplication, excess expenditures, commingling, and uses of levies and funds.
All districts shall follow the guidelines for financial management of budgetary allocations/categorical funding as set out in 281 – Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 98. These can be viewed at:

Starting in July of 2012, districts were allowed to begin using up to five percent (5%) of the total budgeted amount received for purposes of providing district-wide or building-wide returning dropout and dropout prevention programming targeted to students who are not deemed at risk of dropping out (Iowa Code section 257.41(1)(d).

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Purpose for using MAG-DoP
Except for the 5% allowable in Code, Modified allowable growth for dropout prevention (MAG-DoP) is not funding that is generated to provide school wide programming to prevent students from becoming at risk (“preventing at riskedness”). It is intended to be used for serving students who left high school and have returned and to prevent those who are MOST at risk from leaving school, completing school or progressing in school. When districts consider using this funding stream for programming, the district is asking the local property tax payers to invest in the District (as a community) so the students don’t drop out and become a burden to state and local resources at a later point in life.

Funding for these programs must focus on two types of students, returning dropouts and potential dropouts as defined in Iowa Code Section 257.39:

"Returning dropouts" are resident pupils who have been enrolled in a public or nonpublic school in any of grades seven through twelve who withdrew from school for a reason other than transfer to another school or school district and who subsequently enrolled in a public school in the district.

"Potential dropouts" are resident pupils who are enrolled in a public or nonpublic school who demonstrate poor school adjustment as indicated by two or more of the following:
  1. High rate of absenteeism, truancy, or frequent tardiness.
  2. Limited or no extracurricular participation or lack of identification with school, including but not limited to, expressed feelings of not belonging.
  3. Poor grades, including but not limited to, failing in one or more school subjects or grade levels.
  4. Low achievement scores in reading or mathematics which reflects achievement at two years or more below grade level.
  5. Children in grades kindergarten through three who meet the definition of at-risk children adopted by the department of education.
Once Districts have identified students as meeting the threshold criteria for returning or potential dropouts, districts must provide supports for those students. Districts are required to provide “alternative options” in accordance with Iowa Code Section 280.19A. The alternative options offered by a district would be locally defined. Using modified allowable growth for dropout prevention is one way to provide those services. Students who are identified may need intensive, on-going, individual supports, supplemental or moderate supports. Students previously identified as a potential dropout who need minimal on-going supports should continue to be identified as a returning dropout so they may be included and supported and staff should continue to dedicate time to serving the needs of the identified students.

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Setting Priorities
Districts could target the services in several ways from providing individualized supports or small group activities to an alternative school/program. All services should be targeted and explicit for the identified population for a specific identified need.

First and foremost, any student who has dropped out and returned is the primary target for modified allowable growth for dropout prevention (MAG-DoP) funding. The money should focus on recovery, re-entry and re-engagement of students who left school.
  1. Recovery involves finding students who have dropped out of school and reconnecting with them to return to school. This can be accomplished by positive adult role models, advisors, advocates placing phone calls, conducting dropout walks, contacting friends, relatives, etc.
  2. Re-entry is supporting students to have the ability to return to school at any time during the year and pick up where s/he left off or begin/finish coursework to earn credits to apply toward graduation. This can be accomplished by online coursework, component recovery, credit recovery, focusing on essential concepts and skills for graduation.
  3. Re-engagement is getting students to become connected within the school context. This can be accomplished by focusing on the student’s relationship with the school community: the people (adults and peers), the structures (rules, facilities, and schedules), the curriculum and content, the pedagogy and the opportunities (curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular). The degree to which a student returns and is able to re-engage in school is dependent on the quality, depth and breadth of the student’s relationship with the various aspects of the life and work of the school. (Yazzie-Mintz, 2006)
The National Dropout Prevention Center website has three documents that focus specifically on re-entry programs for out of school youth. The documents are titled:
  1. The Need for a Broad Range of Options
  2. Strategies for Locating and Reenrolling
  3. Characteristics of Reentry Programs
Clicking on the title of the document will open that specific document. Click on this link for more detailed information about dropout prevention and re-entry programs:

The second priority would be any student who would meet all 4 of the criteria for a potential dropout, then any student who meets 3 of the criteria and lastly for the students who meet 2 of the criteria. These are the students who are at the highest risk of dropping out. Students who would only meet 1 of the above defined criteria would certainly be at risk but not qualify for programming with the modified allowable growth funding.

Students identified in specific subgroups should not be identified for the mere fact that the student is already identified in a subgroup or that research with a broad group of students shows that group of students could be at risk or don’t perform as well as other students. Examples of inappropriately identifying students and using the MAG-DoP funding could be, but not limited to, poor students, African American students, a student with a disability and/or a student who wears “Goth” or a student who has green hair. Every student served in programming with the MAG-DoP funding must be because s/he is specifically identified using the above criteria for dropout, returning dropout and potential dropout from the Iowa Code Section 257.39.

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Providing a Multi-Tiered System of Supports
A multi-tiered system of support is an educational model that delineates three or more levels of instructional interventions based on gaps in student skills. A tier is a level in a response to intervention system that includes interventions and supports for a clearly defined group of students. Using a tiered system of supports can address the needs of struggling learners by providing interventions at increasing levels of intensity (Stuart, 2009). The students most disaffected with school would be in the tertiary tier.

The model used for preventing potential dropouts from leaving school is a three tiered model of supports for students which include three levels of support.
  1. Primary prevention (universal)
  2. Secondary prevention (targeted)
  3. Tertiary prevention (intensive)
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Primary (universal) prevention is instruction and programming for all students or has a broad scope in nature and reaches about 80-85% of students. Tier I supports are based on the notion that it is responsive, standards-based, and data driven (Fisher, 2010). The educational and behavioral supports provided to ALL kids, to assist them in being successful in school (core academic program -ICC, athletics, PBIS-core level) is considered primary prevention and should not be funded with MAG-DOP funds. Response To Intervention (RTI) is undermined when districts rely on Tier II and Tier III interventions. Replacing the educational core program, districts are required to provide ALL students, with dropout prevention programming would be supplanting. Examples of this could be the funding of positions such as guidance counselors, deans or administrators to perform the duties expected of them when working with all students and would be considered an inappropriate use of funds.

*As of July 2012, up to 5% of the total budgeted amount may be used for district-wide or building-wide programming. A focus on school culture and climate is one recommendation for building/district wide programming to decrease the number of students who drop out.

Prevention Tier Core Elements
(ALL students)
  • Access to general education “core” curriculum
  • Access to after school programming/clubs/organizations
  • Behavioral and instructional expectations defined and taught across the system
  • System to acknowledge appropriate behavioral/academic successes
  • Continuous collection and use of data for decision-making
  • Universal Screening
Adapted from (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Technical Assistance Center, 2009)

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Secondary (targeted) prevention is considered supplemental services and supports that are in addition to or above and beyond general education programming. Secondary prevention would be directed toward smaller groups of students, who are experiencing the same types of challenges or barriers. Instruction, interventions, supports and services could focus on skill development, social skills, specific reading interventions and/or afterschool programs focused on students who have similar needs. Secondary prevention provides repeated periods of increased time, intensity, or access to expertise that is in addition to Tier I Prevention programming and is not intended to remediate episodic difficulties (Fisher, 2010). To have the greatest impact on student learning, at this level, professionals with expertise in the targeted area of need should provide small group instruction/skill development for a minimum of 30 minutes, three times a week. Highest impact would be obtained in small group instruction for 30 minutes, every day.

Prevention Tier Core Elements
(Some students)
  • Progress monitoring for at risk students
  • Increasing structure and predictability
  • Increasing contingent adult feedback
  • Linking academic and behavioral performance
  • Targeted small group social skills instruction
  • Increasing explicit home/school communication
  • Continuous collection and use of data for decision-making
Adapted from (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Technical Assistance Center, 2009)

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Tertiary (intensive) prevention is for the top 5-8% of kids who need individual assistance to focus on overcoming any of the issues/challenges/barriers that s/he may have. The majority of the students who are served with MAG-DoP funds are those in the tertiary (intensive) level. Tertiary interventions/supports are defined as supports focused on meeting students’ individual needs based on their unique characteristics and specific circumstances (e.g., significance of academic needs in reading/math, differences in the severity of behavior, complexity of environment, barriers), and should be flexible, focused and personalized for each student. In establishing a framework to intervene effectively with individual students whose behavior interferes with school progress and interpersonal relationships, it is necessary to consider the importance of eliminating barriers for success and providing appropriate programming at an individual level and having multiple alternative options for students to chose from. Tertiary prevention or Tier III supports provide multiple and repeated periods of increased time, intensity, access to expertise and increased assessment that is beyond Tier II programming (Fisher, 2010). To have the greatest impact on student learning, at this level, professionals with expertise in the targeted area of need should provide individualized instruction/skill development/supports for a minimum of 60 minutes daily.

Prevention Tier Core Elements
(few/individual students)
  • Team-based comprehensive assessment
  • Individualized intervention based on assessment information focusing on (a) prevention of problem contexts, (b) instruction on functionally equivalent skills, and instruction on desired performance skills, (c) strategies for placing problem behavior on extinction, (d) strategies for enhancing contingence reward of desired behavior, and (e) use of negative or safety consequences if needed.
  • Linking of academic and behavior supports on an individual level
  • Functional Behavioral Assessment
  • Individualized instructional interventions
  • Continuous collection and use of data for decision-making/continuous progress monitoring
Adapted from (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Technical Assistance Center, 2009)

Works Cited
Fisher, D. F. (2010). Enhancing RtI: How to Ensure Success with Effective Classroom Instruction and Intervention. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Technical Assistance Center. (2009, March). Retrieved November 1, 2010, from Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports:

Stuart, S. R. (2009). A Collaborative Planning Framework for Teachers Implementing Tiered Instruction. Teaching Exceptional Children, Vol 42, No 2 , pp. 52-57.

Yazzie-Mintz, E. (2006). Voices of Students on Engagement: A Report on the 2006 High School Survey of Student Engagement. Bloomington, IN: Center for Evaluation and Education Policy.

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Refer to HELP Section 3, for definitions of evidence based programs and professional development requirements.

For questions regarding this form, please contact:
Email:  MAG Dropout Prevention ,
Phone: 515-281-5718
Bureau of School Improvement