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ERIC Number: ED507071
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 48
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Achieving Graduation for All: A Governor's Guide to Dropout Prevention and Recovery
Princiotta, Daniel; Reyna, Ryan
NGA Center for Best Practices
As governors confront the worst state fiscal environment in the past 25 years, long-term prospects for strong economic growth are hampered by an immense underlying problem: the high school dropout crisis. At least one student in five drops out of school, and nearly 5 million 18- to 24-year-olds lack a high school diploma. Annually, dropouts cost the United States more than $300 billion in lost wages and increased public-sector expenses. Furthermore, with the nation ranking 20 out of 28 among industrialized democracies on high school graduation rates, the dropout problem is a substantial drag on the nation's economic competitiveness. The high school dropout problem affects all states, but for some, it is more daunting. No state has higher than an 88 percent graduation rate, and 10 states have rates below 66 percent. All states also have "dropout factories," schools that fail to promote at least 40 percent of 9th graders to 12th grade within three years. More than half the nation's dropouts come from these schools, which are typically located in high-poverty communities. Students drop out of school for four primary reasons, which are often interrelated. The first is academic failure, which involves failing courses or high school exit exams. The second is disinterest in school--a lack of engagement in academic or social aspects of school--which often leads to poor attendance. The third is problematic behavior inside or outside of school that interferes with learning. Finally, some students drop out because of life events, such as becoming pregnant, getting a job, or caring for an ill family member. These drivers of high school dropout are, of course, strongly influenced by the broader social context of schools, districts, families, communities, and states. Although knowledge of why students drop out exists, states face numerous challenges to action. In many states, outdated laws allow students to drop out before age 18, schools are not held accountable for graduation rates, and responsibility for dropout prevention and recovery is diffuse or nonexistent. Many schools lack the capacity to identify and intervene on behalf of students at risk of dropping out and, once students have dropped out, no clear path back to school exists. Finally, in all states, there are too many low-performing schools and too few effective education options for children and youth. Governors are in an extraordinary position to confront these challenges and stem the tide of high school dropouts. To do so, governors should take four actions: (1) Promote high school graduation for all; (2) Target youth at risk of dropping out; (3) Reengage youth who have dropped out of school; and (4) Provide rigorous, relevant options for earning a high school diploma. Together, these strategies form a comprehensive approach to dropout prevention and recovery. Governors who pursue these reforms can expect to realize substantial benefits. Lowering dropout rates expands opportunity for more youth, paving the way for success in college, career, and life. It engenders stronger communities, enhanced civic life, and an improved workforce. In the long run, achieving graduation for all helps put states on the path to economic growth. (Contains 6 figures and 193 notes.) [Funding for this document was provided by the GE Foundation.]
NGA Center for Best Practices. 444 North Capitol Street Suite 267, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202-624-5300; Fax: 202-624-5313; Web site:
Publication Type: Guides - Non-Classroom; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Governors Association, Center for Best Practices
Identifiers - Location: United States
IES Cited: ED544499