It’s too late to bar the schoolhouse door when 1.8 million students are already out.
Fueled by billions of dollars in government and foundation funding and adopted as a cause célèbre by no less than Bill Gates and Colin and Alma Powell, dropout prevention has been gaining momentum. But educators and researchers who work with at-risk students say there is no way to really achieve the Graduation Nation goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020 without taking time to find, bring back, and keep the students who have already fallen through the cracks, at a rate of roughly 1 million every year.
“You could almost say all high school reform is a version of dropout prevention and student re-engagement, and that’s all well and good, but … we’re still hemorrhaging students away,” says Andrew O. Moore, a senior fellow at the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, in Washington. “There are a lot of hopes attached to prevention strategies; dropout recovery has been a really neglected function.”
New data and technologies offer greater opportunity to find and reconnect out-of-school youths than ever before. Educators say emerging intervention models hold promise not just to build credits for an equivalent certificate, but to rebuild dropouts’ academic, social, and emotional foundations for success beyond high school.
A new analysis of high school completion from the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center finds that the graduation rate for America’s public schools stands just shy of 75 percent for the class of 2010, the most recent year for which data are available. The graduation rate, which has risen nearly two full percentage points from the previous year and about eight points in the past decade, has reached its highest point since 1973. Yet the EPE Research Center finds 1.8 million young adults ages 16-21 are neither enrolled in school nor have completed a high school education. <Read more.>