Studies: Lack of support and early parenthood cause kids to dropout

19 Nov

In Is mandating 18 as the dropout age the answer? Moi wrote:

The Alliance for Excellent Education has information about Graduation Rates at their site:

Yet every year, approximately 1.3 million students—that’s over 7,000 every school day—do not graduate from high school on time. Nationwide, only 69 percent of students earn their high school diplomas. Among minority students, only 56 percent of Hispanic, 54 percent of African American, and 51 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native students in the U.S. graduate with a regular diploma, compared to 77 percent of white students and 81 percent of Asian Americans….

High school dropouts face a lifetime of reduced earnings and a diminished quality of life. For example, a high school dropout’s lifetime earnings are, on average, about $260,000 less than a high school graduate’s. Local communities, states, and the American economy suffer from the dropout crisis as well – from lost wages, taxes, and productivity to higher costs for health care, welfare, and crime, as shown in the potential economic impacts nationally and by state.

Census projections show that the minority populations with the lowest graduation rates are poised to become half of the U.S. population by 2050. According to Demography as Destiny: How America Can Build a Better Future, an Alliance issue brief, if minority students continue to receive inferior educations and leave high school without diplomas and adequate preparation for the twenty-first-century economy, the nation’s graduation rate and economic strength will both decrease further.

To learn more, access the Alliance’s publications on high school graduation and dropout rates.

The question that educators, politicians, and business leaders are asking is how to decrease the dropout rates.

Passing a law is not going to be effective, but intervention for at-risk students and early childhood education are proven strategies. Those strategies cost money. The question is whether the political elite are paying lip service to dropout prevention while being penny wise and pound foolish. Rapoport is correct that raising the age to dropout must be accompanied by proven education strategies.

Caralee Adams writes in the Education Week article, Why High School Students Drop Out and Efforts to Re-Engage:

Parenthood—either being a parent or missing out on parental support—is the leading reason cited by dropouts for leaving school, according to a new survey.

The 2012 High School Dropouts in America survey was released today by Harris/Decima, a division of Harris Interactive, on behalf of Everest College, a part of the for-profit Corinthian College Inc.

The poll was commissioned to help policymakers and educators understand why students drop out of high school and find effective ways to re-engage them in the hope of improving graduation rates.

The survey asked 513 adults, ages 19 to 35: “Which, if any, of the following reasons prevented you from finishing high school?” Here are the responses:

  1. Absence of parental support or encouragement (23 percent)
  2. Becoming a parent (21 percent)
  3. Lacking the credits needed to graduate (17 percent)
  4. Missing too many days of school (17 percent)
  5. Failing classes (15 percent)
  6. Uninteresting classes (15 percent)
  7. Experiencing a mental illness, such as depression (15 percent)
  8. Having to work to support by family (12 percent)
  9. Was bullied and didn’t want to return (12 percent)

In the survey, conducted online in October, 55 percent of the dropouts looked into, but had not started the process of getting their high school equivalency or GED. The likelihood of doing so is higher for those who are married (67 percent). The reasons for not getting a GED: “not having enough time” (34 percent) and “it costs too much” (26 percent).

One-third of high school dropouts say they are employed either full time, part time, or are self‐employed. Another 38 percent of the men and 26 percent of the women were unemployed.

Attracting young adults who have dropped out back for more education is a challenge.

Often students don’t want to return to the same school they left and are looking for flexible options. One approach that is showing promise is the Boston Public Re-Engagement Center. There, students can retake up to two courses they previously failed; try online credit recovery, or attend night school or summer school. Coming into the program, out-of-school youths are connected with an adult to discuss goals, finances, and enrollment options.

See, High School Dropouts Worsened By Lack Of Support, Becoming A Parent: Survey

Here is the Executive Summary of Rennie Center’s report about Massachusetts:

Forgotten Youth: Re-Engaging Students Through Dropout Recovery [PDF]

Voices From the Field [PDF]

Executive Summary: Forgotten Youth: Re-Engaging Students Through Dropout Recovery [PDF]


Presentation: Forgotten Youth [PDF]


Recovering Out-of-School Youth: Using Re-Engagement as a Dropout Reduction Strategy [Web Page]  

Forgotten Youth

Re-Engaging Students Through Dropout Recovery Issue

Each year, thousands of Massachusetts students drop out of school. The path forward for these students is difficult, and failing to educate the next generation of workers and leaders has substantial long-term consequences for our shared economic and social well-being. Policymakers recently have devoted significant attention to dropout reduction; however, this agenda lacks focus on dropout recovery, the act of re-engaging and re-enrolling students who leave school before graduating. Without a more systemic approach to connect with these youth, educators will struggle to fulfill a commitment to educate all students.


Boston’s Re-Engagement Center is a dropout recovery program that strives to re-enroll out-of-school youth through outreach, personal connections, and needs-based educational options.


The Rennie Center conducted a case study of the Re-Engagement Center (REC) in Spring 2012, the findings of which are highlighted in the policy brief Forgotten Youth: Re-Engaging Students Through Dropout Recovery.


Promising practices A robust public-private partnership provides resources & support critical to the REC’s success. By pooling their assets, two partners pushed the work beyond what either could accomplish individually.
 The REC is a welcoming and supportive environment that encourages out-of-school youth to re-enroll in school. Staff encourage & assist youth who may not know what re-enrollment options are available.


Out-of-school youth who decide to return to school require appropriate educational options. A range of options, some immediately accessible, is essential for keeping these youth interested in education.


The REC is a driver of reform for serving students at-risk for leaving school. Information about out-of-school youth has pushed BPS to re-evaluate support provided to students at-risk for dropping out.

Continuing Challenges Information and data tracking is needed to demonstrate the impact of dropout recovery. There is no formal information tracking to explain the REC’s impact on graduation rates and district practices.

More systematic approaches are needed to evaluate out-of-school youth before re-enrollment. Re-engagement procedures would benefit from entry assessments to better address student needs.


There is limited capacity in the school district to re-enroll youth. Re-engaging youth often prefer to re-enroll in alternative education programs over traditional high schools, but seats are limited.


Formalization of the REC’s work is needed to strengthen organizational capacity and sustainability. Additional funding from diverse sources is needed to maintain and expand current operations.

 The inflexibility of some policies disengages many students who are close to graduation. Rigid credit hour requirements and MCAS administration dates create challenges to graduating with a diploma.
Considerations For school and district leaders Shape re-engagement around out-of-school youth needs by including multiple, flexible re-enrollment options. Develop partnerships with experienced organizations working to support at-risk youth. Create a supportive and welcoming environment for returning youth by finding the right staff and location.

Nurture open dialogue between re-engagement staff and district leadership to shape systematic change.


For community partners

Use an existing understanding of out-of-school youth to partner with districts to address unmet needs.

Address financial stability at the outset to ensure maintenance of the program.


For state policymakers

Support school districts in making re-engaging out-of-school youth a priority.

Encourage districts to develop or expand existing education options based on student needs.

Create opportunities for out-of-school youth to graduate by bein

Moi wrote about childcare in A baby changes everything: Helping parents finish school

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6 Responses to “Studies: Lack of support and early parenthood cause kids to dropout”


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