Dropouts in America

Colin Powell, Co-Founder, America’s Promise and Former Secretary of State, made a profound statement about dropouts in America:

“This isn’t a partisan issue at all.  It sounds drastic, but literally the future of our nation is at stake if we do not correct the dropout rate.”

There are over 1,000,000 dropouts in the class of 2013
(Education Week, 2013)

Here are some key facts:

  • The United States high school graduation rate is hovering at 75%, effectively,  an approximate one-third of all public high school students in America fail to graduate.
  • Nearly 1 million students leave school without a diploma annually.
  • Only 50 percent of minority students (identified as African-American, Hispanic and/or Native-American) finish public high school with a conventional diploma.
  • Graduation rates for whites and Asians stand at a approximate 77 percent; commensurately, approximately one-quarter of whites and Asians fail to graduate.
  • On average, female students graduate at slightly higher rates than males.
  • Considerable attention has been placed by notable groups and individuals on the influence of recovery dropouts and improving graduation rates to a national goal of 90%.  America’s Promise (Colin Powell) and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have made substantial contributions to the focus and work of improving graduation rates.
  • Laws in 28 states require free public education to be provided up to age 21, while 10 other states have no age limit or allow local rules and flexibility.
  • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has presented waiver opportunities to 9 states who are using 5th and 6th year cohort graduation rates to encourage schools to recover their dropouts.
  • Education Week through its Diploma Counts project, estimates there will be 1,037,818 non-graduates in the class of 2013 and 1,752,288 recoverable youth.
  • According to the US Census Bureau, a high school graduate will out-earn a dropout by 50% – overly $10,000 annually.
  • To further the complexities, graduation and dropout rates vary considerably by state and region of the country, sometimes by as much as 30 percentage points.
  • Dropouts are more likely to be unemployed, living on public assistance, homeless, incarcerated, medically neglected, single parents or in unstable relationships.
  • Communities across the nation are compelled to accommodate higher unemployment rates, pay for and provide for increasing prison populations, incur the health care costs associated with underemployment, unemployed and uninsured dropouts.

Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida, summed it up:

“This isn’t a democrat or republican issue.”

The dropout issue in America needs to be addressed if we are going to compete in the world marketplace.

One Comment on “Dropouts in America

  1. This is such powerful research to digest and read (reread) again and again. My own sons and I can tell a powerful story of the obstacles, corruptive pieces and instructional-sabotage that met them on their trying paths to graduation. Their stories have served as fire-starters/accelerants in Educational circles of conversation.

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