There is a high school dropout epidemic in America. Each year, almost one
third of all public high school students – and nearly one half of all blacks,
Hispanics and Native Americans – fail to graduate from public high school
with their class. Many of these students abandon school with less than two years
to complete their high school education.
This tragic cycle has not substantially improved during the past few decades
when education reform has been high on the public agenda. During this time, the
public has been almost entirely unaware of the severity of the dropout problem
due to inaccurate data. The consequences remain tragic.
The decision to drop out is a dangerous one for the student. Dropouts are
much more likely than their peers who graduate to be unemployed, living in
poverty, receiving public assistance, in prison, on death row, unhealthy, divorced,
and single parents with children who drop out from high school themselves.
Our communities and nation also suffer from the dropout epidemic due to
the loss of productive workers and the higher costs associated with increased
incarceration, health care and social services.
Given the clear detrimental economic and personal costs to them, why do
young people drop out of high school in such large numbers? Almost every
elementary and middle school student reports ambitions that include high
school graduation and at least some college. Why are so many dreams cut
short? And what steps should be taken to turn the tide?
In an effort to better understand the lives and circumstances of students
who drop out of high school and to help ground the research in the stories and
reflections of the former students themselves, a series of focus groups and a
survey were conducted of young people aged 16-25 who identified themselves
as high school dropouts in 25 different locations throughout the United States.
These interviews took place in large cities, suburbs and small towns with high
dropout rates.
A primary purpose of this report is to approach the dropout problem from a
perspective that has not been much considered in past studies – that of the students
themselves. These efforts were designed to paint a more in-depth picture of
who these young people are, why they dropped out of high school, and what might
have helped them complete their high school education. We wanted to give their
stories and insights a voice, and to offer our own views on next steps, in the hope
that this report could be a further wake-up call to educators, policymakers, other
leaders, and the public

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The response from the Body of Christ has been weak to this epidemic. There should be more Christian Schools/ Values Centered Charter Schools, after school programs (especially in urban areas) and Christians volunteering as tutors and mentors. Community based after school programs is an excellent opportunity for revitalizing congregations to connect with the youth of the community.

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