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Demography as Destiny: How America Can Build a Better Future

Barely 50% of minority students graduate from high school on time. If this trend continues and the minority student populations increase as projected, the economic strength of the U.S. will be undermined. But if 78% of all student populations graduate on time by 2020, the U.S. can realize stunning potential benefits: conservatively, more than $310 billion would be added to the national economy.

Dropping Out is Hard to Do

Recent research shows that some high schools have much lower dropout rates than would be predicted based on the composition of their student bodies. Moreover, requiring students to work harder and complete a tougher academic curriculum might actually improve graduation rates rather than making them plummet, as so many educators fear.

Dropout Prevention Interventions

This What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) topic report evaluates 16 dropout intervention programs that have been found to meet WWC evidence standards of effectiveness.

Dropout Risk Factors and Exemplary Programs

Dropout decisions may involve up to 25 significant factors, ranging from parenthood to learning disabilities. The most effective interventions address the various factors and employ multiple strategies, including personal asset building, academic support, and family outreach. A list of 50 exemplary programs is included.

Engaging Parents to Support Academic Achievement

Academic achievement is a strong predictor of high school graduation and is critical to long-term success in college, work, and life. A sixth grader who fails math or English, has unsatisfactory behavior, or poor attendance has a 75% likelihood of dropping out. Freshmen in Chicago public schools who earn a B average or better have an 80% chance of finishing high school with at least a 3.0 GPA.

Engaging Parents to Support Academic Attainment Over Time

Chances for success are improved when adults offer children, starting at a young age, positive expectations and aspirations about what they can do and achieve. Learn ways to help parents support students’ long-term success in school, career, and life.

Parent Engagement in Transitions to Middle and High School

Using the 3A framework (Attendance, Achievement, and Attainment) for dropout prevention developed by the America’s Promise Alliance and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, this article highlights specific knowledge that parents need to support students’ success, as well as ways that schools can engage parents as partners.

What Are the Key Components of Dropout Prevention Programs?

Dropout prevention research shows that most programs use more than one type of intervention (family outreach, academic tutoring, personalization and vocational training, for example). While there is no one right way to intervene, research has identified several key components to intervention success.

What Do We Know About Who Drops Out and Why?

Students decide to drop out for many reasons. This overview classifies the reasons as either status (e.g., age, socioeconomic status, geographic region or mobility) or alterable (e.g., grades, disruptive behaviors, school climate, attitude toward school). Recognizing the difference between variables is critical to designing effective interventions.