Friday, May 25, 2007

What's the current high-school dropout rate?

We hear a lot about how American high schools are in bad shape -- not enough funding, not enough teachers, and too many kids dropping out. Do the numbers support the anecdotal evidence?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 10.3% of high-school students dropped out in 2004. (Among Hispanic students, the dropout rate is a disturbingly high 23.8%.) Overall, the rate is trending downward. In 1995, 12% of all high-school students dropped out.

But pinpointing an accurate high-school dropout rate has proved to be something of a challenge. States use various and sometimes questionable methods to calculate the rate, and often report only the most favorable figure.

Amid all the variables, one thing is constant -- those students who choose to drop out face tough challenges in adulthood. A study by the Education Trust found:

The unemployment rate for high school dropouts is more than 30 percent higher than that of graduates. And when employed, dropouts earn close to 30 percent less. Dropouts are also more likely to end up incarcerated and rely on public assistance.
How are those for reasons to stay in school?

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