Dropout Rate

June 13, 2014 • Volume 24, Issue 22
Are new policies needed to keep more teens in school?
By Robert Kiener

Introduction

Empty school chairs displayed at the National Mall by the College Board (Getty Images/Alex Wong)
Empty school chairs displayed at the National Mall by the College Board on June 20, 2012, represent the thousands of public high school students nationwide who drop out every school day. The 80 percent U.S. public school graduation rate means that each year one in five students — more than 700,000 — drop out. (Getty Images/Alex Wong)

The U.S. public high school graduation rate has risen to 80 percent, but more than 700,000 teens still drop out each year. Experts say dropouts create an economic and societal burden because they are ill-prepared to participate in an increasingly sophisticated global economy. The dropout rate is highly uneven, with students who are poor, disabled or still learning English more likely to leave school. Much of the problem can be traced to factors such as poverty, family instability and dangerous neighborhoods. But many critics also fault schools for failing to engage students and Congress for resisting adequate funding for schools. At the same time, conservatives and the Obama administration are locked in a debate about the proper role of Washington in shaping school policy. The federal government aims to increase the graduation rate to 90 percent in coming years, but critics say meeting that goal demands major educational reforms and the money to pay for them.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education Issues
Mar. 10, 2017  Charter Schools
Feb. 03, 2017  Civic Education
Sep. 05, 2014  Race and Education
Jun. 13, 2014  Dropout Rate
May 09, 2014  School Discipline
Mar. 07, 2014  Home Schooling
Dec. 02, 2011  Digital Education
Nov. 15, 2011  Expanding Higher Education
Dec. 10, 2010  Preventing Bullying Updated
Apr. 16, 2010  Revising No Child Left Behind
Mar. 26, 2010  Teen Pregnancy
Sep. 04, 2009  Financial Literacy
Jun. 05, 2009  Student Rights
Feb. 22, 2008  Reading Crisis?
Jul. 13, 2007  Students Under Stress
Apr. 27, 2007  Fixing Urban Schools Updated
Nov. 10, 2006  Video Games Updated
Mar. 03, 2006  AP and IB Programs
Oct. 07, 2005  Academic Freedom
Aug. 26, 2005  Evaluating Head Start
May 27, 2005  No Child Left Behind
Jan. 17, 2003  Home Schooling Debate
Sep. 06, 2002  Teaching Math and Science
Jun. 07, 2002  Grade Inflation
Dec. 07, 2001  Distance Learning
Apr. 20, 2001  Testing in Schools
May 14, 1999  National Education Standards
Apr. 10, 1998  Liberal Arts Education
Jul. 26, 1996  Attack on Public Schools
May 17, 1996  Year-Round Schools
Oct. 20, 1995  Networking the Classroom
Sep. 22, 1995  High School Sports
Jan. 20, 1995  Parents and Schools
Sep. 09, 1994  Home Schooling
Mar. 25, 1994  Private Management of Public Schools
Mar. 11, 1994  Education Standards
Apr. 09, 1993  Head Start
Nov. 30, 1990  Conflict Over Multicultural Education
Feb. 05, 1988  Preschool: Too Much Too Soon?
Oct. 23, 1987  Education Reform
Aug. 24, 1984  Status of the Schools
Sep. 10, 1982  Schoolbook Controversies
Sep. 03, 1982  Post-Sputnik Education
Aug. 18, 1978  Competency Tests
Jan. 26, 1972  Public School Financing
Nov. 03, 1971  Education for Jobs
Apr. 15, 1970  Reform of Public Schools
Aug. 27, 1969  Discipline in Public Schools
Dec. 27, 1968  Community Control of Public Schools
Jun. 14, 1965  Summer School Innovations
Oct. 28, 1964  Education of Slum Children
Jun. 05, 1963  Year-Round School
Mar. 28, 1962  Mentally Retarded Children
Dec. 17, 1958  Educational Testing
Sep. 25, 1957  Liberal Education
Jul. 11, 1956  Educational Exchange
Feb. 02, 1955  Federal Aid for School Construction
Mar. 07, 1951  Education in an Extended Emergency
Nov. 20, 1945  Postwar Public Education
Nov. 07, 1941  Standards of Education
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Diversity Issues
Education Policy
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations
Teaching