The dropout rate in the United States has been an issue that is beginning to acquire a life of its own. In 2008 reports continue to substantiate that there are a large percentage of students enrolling in high school. The dropout rate is the other side of this percentage which depicts a depressing picture of the U.S. school system. School districts around the country are reporting higher than usual dropout rates by school years end. This is not to say that all states within the country are affected by declining graduation rates. These statistics do demonstrate the serious issues being displayed within the average high school student’s completion rating.
The status dropout rate is a term used by the National Center for Education Services (NCES) to define the percentage of individuals in an age group whom are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. The statistical information depends specifically on enrollment percentages that are provided by school districts on a national level. There are three other rates used to help broaden the picture of high school dropouts and graduates.
1. The status completion rate.
2. The average freshman graduation rate.
3. The event dropout rate.
The status completion rate is a percentage of people no longer in high school that have not graduated or received a GED. This is determined by focusing on an overall age group in
opposition of students within the U.S. school system. This status helps informational resources study general population issues.
The event dropout rate is an estimate of private and public school percentages. The student bodies from the beginning of the school year to the beginning of the next school year are calculated in the event rate. This rating system is used to determine and track changes in student experiences within U.S. high schools of today.
The average freshman graduation rate is determined by freshman completing fours years of high school and graduating. The main focus of this rating system is to reflect the variation between public school and all other school systems.
The GED recipient’s inclusion within these graduating percentages seems to indicate that dropout statistics in comparison are reasonably low when in fact, they are high. The information gathered from schools across the country can only be assimilated through enrollment data. This data is then placed in comparison to graduation data at year’s end. Individuals acquiring a GED do not achieve this in the same year they dropped out of high school.
Another reality within this is that statistical information gathered through the attending high school only reports the status of the “actual or enrolled” student body. The graduating students from various GED programs in the area are tallied as graduates in that particular school district after enrollment counts are complete. This creates the façade that graduation rates in the school district are acceptable due to the added GED recipient counts.
When these percentages are looked at from the average freshman graduation rate of 71% as reflected by a case study done by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, the dropout rate
climbs to 29%. These numbers are conflicting according to the NCES, IES and the Department of Education.
1. According to the NCES of the Department of Education the graduation rate is 86% nationally as of 2005. The remaining 14% that either are no longer in school or have not completed a program toward a high school diploma are considered dropouts. When this information is placed in numbers a staggering 3.2 million students within the U.S. will not graduate from high school according to a 14% status completion dropout rate estimated by the NCES.
2. The IES states that; “Dropping out of high school is related to a number of negative outcomes. For example, the average income of persons ages 18 through 65 who had not completed high school was roughly $20,100 in 2005.By comparison, the average income of person’s ages 18 through 65 who completed their education with a high school credential, including a GED certificate, was nearly $29,700”. (IES, 2005, para. 1).
These financial differences are used in reference to earnings based on diploma in opposition of no diploma atmospheres within the social environment. These statistics indicate that the high school dropout rate could potentially be low at approximately 14% of all public high school students. The student graduation rate reflected by the NCES is 86% which concurs with the dropout rate findings established by the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau tabulates its own findings through what is termed “negative outcomes” or financial stability based on income.
Race and physical surroundings along with the normal diversity among humans are factors in both graduates and high school dropouts. As stated by Thornburgh in an article titled Dropout Nation”Like high schoolers everywhere, they have arranged themselves by type: jocks, preps, cheerleaders, dorks, punks and gamers, all with tables of their own.”This separation among students create groups or “cliques” which subjugate other groups, create rivalry, and in many instances cause students to dropout of school. Thornburgh goes on to say, “But when they are finished chugging the milk and throwing Tater Tots at one another, they will drift out to their classes and slouch together through lessons on Edgar Allan Poe and Pythagoras.”
(Thornburgh ,2008, para. 1 ).
This seems to imply that students typically despite their differences are going to class and learning. Later in the article however, Thornburgh remarks; “an increasing number of researchers are saying that nearly 1 out of 3 public high school students won’t graduate, not just in Shelbyville but around the nation.” (Thornburgh, 2008, para. 5).
This statement and others like it along with statistical numbers all point to the fact that there is a serious problem concerning the dropout rate in the U.S. There are two other elements that seem to reflect the highest variations in graduates versus dropout’s statistical information.
1. Locations such as rural areas versus suburban areas seem to play an essential role in dropout rates geographically.
2. Race and ethnicity are a factor in developing statistical information concerning high school dropouts. Graduation rates are higher for whites than blacks on a national level however,
This is not always the case when reading data from a specific location. “African-Americans show a 40% graduation rate in rural Wisconsin. In Cleveland (city), Ohio the African-American graduation rate is 29%”. (Greene, 2005, para. 8). The illustration here is in the fact that there is a large and obvious conflict in the statistical data available concerning many different elements of the school system. The dropout rate is tabulated in various ways for different purposes. The downside in the variances of the numbers and percentages is that a vague picture within the reality of the issue is painted which leaves only an approximation of actual numbers. This type of tabulation depends on personal opinion or technique a research group or agency chooses to adhere to in their own data…
The article Dropout Nation addresses the issue within minority groups throughout the United States school system as well. The articles own findings suggest much of the same. Social atmospheres are a substantial part of the reasoning that potentially leads to students discontinuing their education. Latino and African American communities statistically reflect large percentages of students dropping out of high school.
“For Latinos and African Americans, the rate approaches an alarming 50%. Virtually no community, small or large, rural or urban, has escaped the problem.”(Thornburgh ,2008, para.5 ).
The dropout rate being high in the United States appears to be substantiated in Mr. Greene’s findings researching the dropout rate through the Manhattan Institute which primarily addresses policy related topics in education. Mr. Greene points out: “The discrepancy between the NCES’ finding (86%) and this report’s finding of a 71% rate is largely caused by NCES’ counting
General Equivalency Diploma (GED) graduates and others with alternative credentials as high school graduates.” (Greene, 2005, para. 24)
The Department of Educations decision to include the GED and other alternative equivalents is partially due to social issue. Many potential graduates could not complete their education at that time for a number of reasons within social existence. Individuals wishing to return to school and acquire their diploma also want to be recognized as a graduate.
The observations made by Mr. Thornburgh in the article Dropout Nationwere convincing elements in summarizing the problems with students dropping out of high school and how to address positively the issue. The dropout rate in numbers is a depiction without a picture of what is occurring within the student body of most U.S. states. Many are graduating but the dropout rate is alarming being projected by the Census Bureau to be 20% or more by 2010. Other agencies affiliated or private disagree with the Department of Education and the Census Bureau projecting much higher percentages. The Manhattan Institute findings point this out with a 29% dropout percentage calculated in 2005.
“Each day, more than 1,200 young men and women give up on their high school education, and, in many cases, on themselves”. (Ad Council, 2008, para. 1).
Statements like the one above are made daily in the United States by officials in and outside looking in the education situation in this country and its deterioration. The concern and level of importance is overshadowed by the nervous tension of the time.
The reflections on the statistics suggest that this is an issue effecting the lower income families and single parent homes. Many high school dropouts today have a variety of reasons for dropping out of high school but have few reasons for why they have not returned. Gang violence in inner-city neighborhood creates another type of peer pressure in 2008. According to the FBI, crime statistics on a national level within the school system is as shocking as the dropout rate. A study done by the National Incident-Based Reporting System Data (NIBRS) over a 5-year period concluded that 3.3 percent of all incidents reported to the NIBRS involved school locations. (Noonan, 2007, para. 1).
A majority of these percentages concern crimes against other students resulting in time out of school for both the victim and perpetrator.
The statistical information suggests that the issues within the dropout rate are a social problem that needs dealt with on a social level. Communities need to address issues within their neighborhood, promote education and the need to continue through high school even if college is out of reach financially.