Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Students are dropping out of High School at higher levels

One of my brothers sent me a link to an ABC report titled: Students Dropping Out of High School Reaches Epidemic Levels. The opening line was written for shock value: "In several of the largest school systems across the country -- from Baltimore to Cleveland to Atlanta and Oakland, Calif. -- half of the students are dropping out." (emphasis is mine)

One or two distrinct with high drop out rates are a problem, but not an epidemic. Later in the report it says: "A recent study by the Department of Education found that 31 percent of American students were dropping out or failing to graduate in the nation's largest 100 public school districts." It would have been nice to have a link to the study.

I poked around on the United States Department of Education website and the best I could find was a report published in 2000 on Dropout Rates in the United States. The full report (255K) has an interesting graph on page iv showing that percent of 18 to 24 year olds who completed highschool has climbed slight fromm 84% in 1972 to 86% in 2000. This factors in students who stop going to school but later return and finish. But even a rate of 15% is still high.

The ABC News report is focused on the problems students face without an education. It would be more helpful if there was some analysis of why so many students, 31% or 15%, are not interested in finishing their public school education.

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Spunky said...

I would watch the calculations. They have ways of making things look like they are not with statistics. The dropout calculation in Michigan has changed several times in Michigan. It is based on who enteres in ninth grade and then graduates in twelfth. But dropout could mean a variety of things...not taking the graduation exam, homeschooling, or just deciding that they can take community college classes and skip the rest of high school. To me crying "crisis" in the drop out rate just means the state must then rush in and "fix" the problem. Usual that means send us more money.

Henry Cate said...

I agree.

I believe that part of the reason public schools are in such a mess today is that for fifty plus years the government has been "fixing" the problems.

cinnamon said...

Our state claims a high graduation rate because they count drop-outs as those 12th graders who do not finish. What about those who left in the earlier years? It's all a numbers game.

Henry Cate said...

I think the trick is to be skeptical, but not too dismissive.

What ever the exact numbers are, it is clear there is a problem.