Many adolescents who struggle with reading quit school. Others graduate from high school, but still lack the literacy skills needed to succeed in work and life. Articles in this section offer information on how to prevent students from dropping out and how to create effective intervention programs.
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Public School Graduates and Dropouts from the Common Core of Data: School Year 2008-09
Stillwell, R., Sable, J., and Plotts, C. (2011). Public School Graduates and Dropouts From the Common Core of Data: School Year 2008–09 (NCES 2011-312). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
Certificates Count: An Analysis
Complete College America. (2010). Certificates count: An analysis of sub-baccalaureate certificates. Washington, DC: Author.
This report calls for more emphasis and investment to be placed on sub-baccalaureate certificate programs as a means to help the United States improve its postsecondary education performance and stimulate economic and job growth. Sub-baccalaureate certificates are practical and often underutilized credentials that can provide graduates with an appealing combination of rapid postsecondary achievement and portable skills and knowledge.
Research shows that certificate programs, specifically long-term programs that take more than one year to complete, can generate the same earning potential as an associate degree that takes two years to complete. This is especially true of programs in the health care field, which constitute 43 percent of all certificates. In fact, the median earnings of long-term certificate earners are higher than those who have obtained associate degrees in some fields.
Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972–2008
Chapman, C., Laird, J., and KewalRamani, A. (2010). Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972–2008 (NCES 2011-012). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved [date] from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch.
This report discusses the various rates used to study how students complete or fail to complete high school and provides data about trends in dropout and completion rates from 1972 to 2008, along with more recent estimates of on-time graduation from public high schools. Among the findings in the report was that in October 2008, roughly 3 million civilian noninstitutionalized 16- through 24-year-olds were not enrolled in high school and had not earned a high school diploma or alternative credential. These dropouts represented 8% of the 38 million non-institutionalized individuals in this age group in the U.S.
Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic
Balfanz, R., Bridgeland, J.M., Moore, L.A., & Fox, J.H. (2010). Building a grad nation: Progress and challenge in ending the high school dropout epidemic. Washington, DC: America's Promise Alliance.
The U.S. graduation rate increased from 72% in 2002 to 75% in 2008. The state of Tennessee and New York City led the nation by boosting graduation rates 15% and 10%, respectively. The report reveals that the number of “dropout factory” high schools fell by 13% — from 2,007 in 2002 to 1,746 in 2008. (Most of the decline in dropout factories — 216 of the 261 — occurred in the South). While these schools represent a small fraction of all public high schools in America, they account for about half of all high school dropouts each year. Experts say targeting these high schools for improvement is a critical part of turning around the nation’s dropout rate.
Reinventing Alternative Education: An Assessment of Current State Policy and How to Improve It
Almeida, C., Le, C. Steinberg, A. & Cervantes. R. (2010). Reinventing alternative education: An assessment of current state policy and how to improve it. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future.
Of the 1.2 million students who drop out each year, and the others who continue to attend school but make little progress toward graduation, many will require creative alternatives in significantly different settings to help them get back on track toward a diploma and a postsecondary credential.
This report identifies seven model policy elements that states should incorporate in order to develop and improve alternative pathways for struggling students and former dropouts. Jobs for the Future performed this comprehensive 50-state policy scan to assess the extent to which state policy aligns with these model elements.
Six Pillars of Effective Dropout Prevention and Recovery: An Assessment of Current State Policy and How to Improve It
Almeida, C., Steinberb, A., Santos, J. & Le, C. (2010). Six pillars of effective dropout prevention and recovery: An assessment of current state policy and how to improve it. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future.
Diplomas Count (2010)
Education Week (2010). Diplomas Count 2008. Washington, DC: Editorial Projects in Education.
This report from Education Week and the Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) Research Center finds that the nation’s graduation rate has dropped for the second consecutive year, following a decade of mostly solid improvements. Although the latest decrease is considerably smaller than that found the previous year, the report shows that, on a national scale, 11,000 fewer students will earn diplomas.
Three out of every 10 students in America’s public schools fail to finish high school with a diploma, the report finds. That amounts to 1.3 million students falling through the cracks of the high school pipeline every year, or more than 7,200 students lost every day. Most nongraduates are members of historically disadvantaged minority groups. Dropouts are also more likely to have attended school in large, urban districts and to come from communities plagued by severe poverty and economic hardship.
Grad Nation: A Guidebook to Help Communities Tackle the Dropout Crisis
America's Promise Alliance. (2009). Grad Nation. Washington, DC: Author.
High Schools as Launch Pads: How College-Going Culture Improves Graduation Rates in Low-Income Schools
College Summit. (2008).High Schools as Launch Pads: How College-Going Culture Improves Graduation Rates in Low-Income Schools. Washington, DC: Author.
Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation
National Women's Law Center and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. (2009). Listening to Latinas: barriers to high school graduation. Washington, DC: Author.
High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2007
Cataldi, E.F., Laird, J., and KewalRamani, A. (2009). High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2007 (NCES 2009-064). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.
- Students living in low-income families were approximately ten times more likely to drop out of high school between 2006 and 2007 than were students living in high-income families.
- One-year dropout rates have declined since 1972 among all racial/ethnic groups, although the decreases happened at different times over this 35-year period for these groups.
- About 3.3 million 16- through 24-year-olds were not enrolled in high school and had not earned a high school diploma or alternative credential, as of October 2007.
Graduating America: Meeting the Challenge of Low Graduation-Rate High Schools
Balfanz, R., Almeida, C., Steinberg, A., Santos, A. and Fox, J. H. (2009). Graduating America: meeting the challenge of low graduation-rate high schools. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future.
This report from Jobs for the Future examines three major factors that should be considered when making choices about improvement strategies: patterns of geographic spread and concentration; state, district, and school characteristics; and socioeconomic, demographic, and political trends in the community.
- Require states seeking ARRA “Race to the Top” funding to use analytic data on graduation rates and low graduation-rate high schools as part of their plans for turning around failing schools.
- Build the capacity of states, districts, and schools to implement appropriate high school reform strategies.
- Designate additional federal innovation funding for development and replication of effective school designs to use in transforming or replacing low graduation-rate high schools.
- Target federal financing to high schools, districts, and states with the most pressing dropout problems.
Putting Middle Grade Students on the Graduation Path
Balfanz, R. (2009). Putting middle grade students on the graduation path. Westerville, OH: National Middle School Association.
Developing Early Warning Systems to Identify Potential High School Dropouts
Hepper, J. and Therriault, S.B. (2008). Developing Early Warning Systems to Identify Potential High School Dropouts. Washington, D.C.: National High School Center.
Creating Postsecondary Pathways to Good Jobs for Young High School Dropouts
Harris, L. And Ganzglass, E. (2008). Creating Postsecondary Pathways to Good Jobs for Young High School Dropouts. Center for American Progress. Washington, DC.
Making College and Career Readiness the Mission for High Schools: A Guide for State Policymakers
Achieve & The Education Trust. (2008). Making College and Career Readiness the Mission for High Schools: A Guide for State Policymakers. Washington, DC: Author.
The Forgotten Middle
ACT. (2008). The Forgotten Middle: Ensuring that All Students Are on Target for College and Career Readiness. Iowa City, IA: Author.
Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2006
Laird, J., Cataldi, E.F., KewalRamani, A., and Chapman, C. (2008). Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2006 (NCES 2008- 053). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.
Relative to their peers who completed high school, dropouts on average earn less income, and are more likely to be unemployed, in prison, or in poor health.
This report from the National Center for Education Statistics gives data about trends in dropout and completion rates since 1972 and examines the characteristics of both high school dropouts and high school completers.
Raising Graduation Rates in an Era of High Standards
Steinberg, Adria, and Almeida, Cheryl A., (2008). Raising Graduation Rates in an Era of High Standards. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future.
This report from Jobs for the Future suggests five reforms that state-level policymakers should implement to improve high school graduation rates and to align graduation standards with the demands of college and career.
Career Academies: Long-Term Impacts on Labor Market Outcomes, Educational Attainment, and Transitions to Adulthood
Kemple, J.J. and Willner, C.J. (2008). Career Academies: Long-Term Impacts on Labor Market Outcomes, Educational Attainment, and Transitions to Adulthood. New York: MDRC.
Career Academies have become a widely used high school reform initiative that aims to keep students engaged in school and prepare them for successful transitions to postsecondary education and employment. Typically serving between 150 and 200 students from grades 9 or 10 through grade 12, Career Academies combine academic and technical curricula around a career theme, and establish partnerships with local employers to provide work-based learning opportunities.
Since 1993, MDRC has been conducting a uniquely rigorous evaluation of the Career Academy approach in a diverse group of nine high schools across the United States. Located in medium- and large-sized school districts, the schools confront many of the educational challenges found in low-income urban settings. This report describes how Career Academies influenced students' labor market prospects and postsecondary educational attainment in the eight years following their expected graduation. The results are based on the experiences of more than 1,400 young people, approximately 85 percent of whom are Hispanic or African-American.
Cities in Crisis 2009: Closing the Graduation Gap
Swanson, Christopher B. Copyright © 2009 by Editorial Projects in Education Inc. All rights reserved.
Still At Risk: What Students Don't Know, Even Now
(2008) ©Common Core. All rights reserved.
This report reveals some damning statistics about U.S. teens' lack of knowledge of history and culture. For example, one-third do not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom of speech and religion and forty-four percent think The Scarlet Letter was either about a witch trial or a piece of correspondence.
The authors' attribute much of this ignorance to a curriculum focused on basic reading and math skills and preparation for high-stakes testing, but parental educational also has an impact on student knowledge-students with a college-educated parent scored significantly better than those without.
When Girls Don't Graduate We All Fail
National Women's Law Center. (2007). When Girls Don't Graduate We All Fail: A call to improve high school graduation rates for girls. Retrieved from http://www.nwlc.org/pdf/dropoutreport.pdf.
Rigor at Risk: Reaffirming Quality in the High School Core Curriculum
ACT. (2007). Rigor at Risk: Reaffirming Quality in the High School Core Curriculum. Retrieved Nov. 5. 2007, from http://www.act.org/path/policy/pdf/rigor_report.pdf.
Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma that Counts
Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2004, Achieve, Inc. Retrieved Oct. 17, 2007 from http://www.achieve.org/node/552.
Career Planning Begins with Assessment: A Guide for Professionals Serving Youth with Educational and Career Development Challenges
Timmons, J., Podmostko, M., Bremer, C., Lavin, D., & Wills, J. (2005). Career planning begins with assessment: A guide for professionals serving youth with educational & career development challenges (Rev. Ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, Institute for Educational Leadership. Available at www.ncwd-youth.info/resources_&_Publications/manuals.php.
America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future
Kirsch, I., Braun, H., Yamamoto, K., and Sum, A. Copyright ©2007 by Educational Testing Service.