High school Dropout Facts
The nation's dropout crises have become severe over the past ten years. Big city high schools have less than 50% of freshmen graduate. (8) The problem has taken a back seat to a national focus on early childhood and elementary programs. Recent studies have found the dropout rate rising in large cities. Among minority groups, the dropout rate is the highest. The causes of the growing problem range from teen pregnancy to depression. The effect of the drop out rate is financially devastating on the individuals who dropout. Programs are being used to help decrease the tendencies for student to dropout. The national dropout rate has become common for teenagers. Dropout intervention programs have little effect from keeping teens from dropping out. According to the Boston herald website:
"But combating dropout rates requires new approaches since one group of researcher found that the 20 primary dropout prevention programs administered by the U.s. department of education made little difference in keeping teens in school. The city' has gradually increase during the past four years, with roughly 900 student-mostly black and Hispanic- leaving the system each year." (1)
This problem has been gradually increasing because schools have focused on basis math, literally skills and early childhood education for raising overall test scores. The dropout problem has been virtually forgotten. According to Jay Smink, Director of the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University: "The sad part is, no one is seriously looking at the issue, and the sadder part is they're not putting the resources needed to improve the graduation rate,"(2)
Largest Group of Drop-outs
Hispanics are the largest group of dropout rates at 30-35%. This is 2.5 times higher than the Africans-Americans dropout rate and 3.5 % time the rate of whites. The study show the reason for the higher rate among Hispanics is poor teacher preparation, lower expectations, and overcrowded facilities. Another reason is a language barrier. Few teachers know enough Spanish to teach Hispanics. Other reasons are cultural related. Many Hispanic youth cite reasons for dropping out that are common to all youth who drop out. These reasons are they are failing, bored and/or having to work to support a family. Most Hispanics tend to believe that the public schools disrespect Hispanic culture, neglect the language problem, and set academic standards below the national norm. Poverty is wide spread among Hispanics. (6) Many children do not get an early start at school by attending pre-school; therefore, these children are at a disadvantage from the start. Their parents cannot read so these children miss being read to which is a necessary part of early development. In addition, peer pressure is an extremely strong influence on Hispanic youth. According to the Augusta Chronicle: (9) "Peer pressure to drop out can be nearly overwhelming in the Hispanic community, as DeAnza Montoyz, a pretty Santa Fe teen, can attest. In her neighborhood, it was considered "Anglo" and "nerdy" to do well in school." "Other experts, however, blame failed bilingual education programs which sidetrack and discourage Hispanic pupils � often delaying their entry into mainstream English-taught classes." (4)
Drop out Rate Among Ethic Groups
The causes of teens dropping out of school are many. Some are attendance related reasons, difficulties in academics, depression, drug use, teen pregnancy and apathy. In addition, lack of parental involvement is a major factor. Parents who dropped out of school tend to rear children who drop out of school. In addition, many teens choose work over going to school. These teens either need the money to help support their families or enjoy the extra money their job generates. They cannot handle the pressure between work and school; therefore, they choose work over school. In addition, many teens that drop out of high school generally do not like school. Students who are failing and having a hard time keeping up with schoolwork drop out. Social problems stemming from dislike of teachers and peers are contributing factors to the growing problem.
Teens Facing Higher Risk for Dropping out of School
Teens who drop out of school tend to come from low-income families. Often the cause and effect are seen as a cycle. The effect on a person who has dropped out of school is a tendency to be employed in a low-income job and to be dependent on welfare. One half of welfare recipients are dropouts. People who drop out school and end up working in low paying jobs have little chance for improvement. This contributes to a low self-esteem and the dropout rate. Thus, cause and effect interrelated. Many teens that drop out end up in prison. Nearly half the prison population is dropouts. (5) "Mr. Smink said society should care about the problem because a person with a high school diploma is more likely to get a better job and not be in jail or on welfare. Sixty percent of South Carolina's prison inmates are dropout. High school graduates average $7,000 more in salary than those who don't finish."(5)
Programs to Combat the Drop-out Problem
Numerous programs have been initiated to combat the problem; some of these programs start in preschool and through early elementary grades. The idea is to catch the problem early, while there is still hope. One such program is the New York City Drop out Prevention Program. This program focuses on the transition from Junior high school to Senior high school, a key point in the lives of adolescences contributing to the increase in dropout rates. High school has provided help through social institutions to students and their families. Parents are a huge part of this program and are considered a key ingredient for success. Some programs included are flexible schedules, job development and placement for seniors, an incentive for those students who show improvement in academics. Part time employment helps students achieve the transition from school to work. In addition, this program provides tutoring and mentoring. After the first two years this program was initiated, the dropout rate decreased from 42% to 30%.
The Adopt a Student is a program operating in Atlanta, Georgia. This program pairs business volunteers with low achieving high school juniors and seniors in a career support
system. Students are taught to think about future employment opportunities, identify with future goals, and begin taking steps to that goal.
Another program, the Alternative School network, based in Chicago, Illinois, aims towards neighborhood school dropouts. This Alternative school and youth center provides a structure of program education, which includes General Education Diploma (GED) preparation, employment preparation, counseling and job training. This program shows an effective way for organizations to target the needs of young dropouts. Since this program was initiated a reported 60 to 70% high school/GED completion since this program was initiated.
Upward Bound is a national program that provides academic and other kinds of assistance. This program is aimed toward economically disadvantaged and underachieving students who show potential for finishing college. The program uses intervention strategies such as interesting curriculums. Tutoring often extends into the school year. During the summer, this program provides youth with campus housing and extensive training in academics.
Another programs Cities-as-Schools, (CAS) is an independent program that combines learning with the work world in New York City. Students are taught in smaller classes, using community resources such as businesses, cultural, social or political organizations. This program offers seminars that provide discussion groups for academic.
Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education is a vital part of drop out prevention. Studies have found that parents who put their kids in pre-kindergarten are employed at the age of 19, and are less likely to be on welfare. Many social and behavioral problems that are cultivated in the early schools years may later contribute to students dropping out of school. If these problems are identified and dealt with early, the risks of teens dropping out are greatly reduced. (7) The dropout rate among high school students is very great in this country. Hispanic groups are among the largest ethnic group to drop out of school. Reasons vary from student to student; however, many are related to family issues. There are many prevention programs across the country, which are addressing the problem. However, the key to drop out prevention is found in early education programs.