Thursday, January 10, 2013

Perspective on the Drop Out Rate

Credit: Wesley Bedrosian (See Edutopia Article)
I received a tweet today via @jasonflom stating:
"Over 1265 dropouts already today (1 student every 26 seconds). The time is now to transform education to authentically engage students."
It got me thinking about the reasons many students drop out. I did a quick google search and it seems that more than 1/4 of females drop out due to pregnancy and 8% of males drop out due to becoming a father. As a technology specialist in the schools, I feel like this is an excuse for which any school in the U.S. can provide a solution.

A virtual education program for students in this situation could lower the dropout rate, produce more high school graduates and allow these students the opportunity to provide for their families.  The typical 8-3 school day is not conducive for a 17 year old that also has to work to support their child.  Even if they went to school all day, they would have to work all night and then we are into the fact that they are not getting any time to spend with the child.

I then found this great image (above) which comes from an article on Edutopia that is worth a read.  Thoughts? Ideas?  Are you in a school district that has a program for dropouts?  I'd love to hear from you either here or on Twitter!


  1. I like this idea of separating out the needs of the populations that are dropping out and attending to them specifically. Rather than a blanket solution (such as "let's test all students at a younger and younger age so we can target their gaps and focus on those") attacking the issue from several fronts. Personalizing and individualizing solutions, so to speak.

    Your parenting piece is a prime example. The symptom is dropping out because pregnancy and a shift in priorities/needs for these students. In the short run, providing alternatives such as virtual schooling increases their options and opportunities. Simultaneously (in my pollyannic blue sky day dream), we tackle the core problems that are complex and cultural and necessitate a longer range solution -- sex ed, access to birth control, integrated programs that foster and cultivate healthy communities, and the like. Testing earlier is of little consequence in this case. It really is about nuance.

    Thanks for fleshing out some ideas. Cheers.

  2. Julie - I work in an inner city school in New Jersey and have seen the dropout problem firsthand. While I agree that technology can bridge the problem you mentioned above (mainly kids are dropping out of school because they are starting families), I do not think it would be as big of a benefit as you might think. First off, you would have to worry about the integrity of whoever is doing the work. We offset that by currently offering home instruction to girls who are pregnant and/or just had children. Second, technology cannot bridge the desire, or lack thereof, of students coming to school. I can only speak for myself, but the majority of students I teach (and I teach all levels) do not find any value in getting an education. Thus, while in suburbia students will often work through classes that do not engage them at all in order to work towards a bigger goal (graduation, college, job), my students do not. In my high school, classes where students are truly engaged and love their teachers still produce a large amount of failing grades because there is no follow through by the student in homework, studying, classwork, etc. If students see no value in school, then they will not work in school. It is a cultural issue of the community. Are there exceptions? Of course and I am not saying to quit on these kids. What I am saying is these kids view school and what school can do differently than those in suburbia. Until we fix that problem, it does not matter what any politician or consultant or anybody else dictates at these schools. It is not going to make a noticeable difference.

  3. Really interesting. Here's some recent data I grabbed from another Edutopia blog that adds some more context:

    "In addition to what we know about the personal and societal benefits to high school graduation (higher wage for individuals and lower crime rates for communities among them), as we look towards our nation's economic future, it is projected that in 2018, 63 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education. Just 10 percent of jobs will be available to high school dropouts (compared to 32% in 1973). At our current rate of improvement, the nation's graduation rate will be closer to 80 percent than 90 percent in 2020, two years after 90 percent of jobs will require high school graduation."

    Link to blog to read more| Middle School's Role in Dropout Prevention|

    Thanks again,
    Social Media Marketing Manager | Edutopia | @elanaleoni

  4. Great comments from you all. There are many factors going into this issue and there are many options to consider. Overall, I think it will take an out of the box solution and no solution will grab everyone. Flexibility in learning is key in my opinion, but sadly, that doesn't seem to exist (generally) in the public education system.
    Elana's quote is important and honestly, probably one of the most profound ways to change the dropout rate. If students know they need that piece of paper to be able to get a job, most will get it. The workforce creating change, in this situation, may prove the greatest change for us.