Losing Ground Paul E. Barton As we strive to improve high school achievement, we must not forget the increasing number of students who fail to graduate. A recent upsurge of interest in the student dropout problem seems to have come as a surprise to U.
Page 9 1 Background and Context Failure to complete high school has been recognized as a social problem in the United States for decades and, as discussed below, the individual and social costs of dropping out are considerable.
Social scientists, policy makers, journalists, and the public have pondered questions about why students drop out, how many drop out, what happens to dropouts, and how young people might be kept from dropping out. A significant body of research has examined questions about dropouts, and this section of the report provides an overview of current knowledge about these young people.
We begin with a look at the history of school completion. Indeed, the very notion of adolescence as a phase of life distinct from both childhood and adulthood came into common parlance only in the first decades of the twentieth century, at roughly the same time that educators began to develop increasingly ambitious goals for the schooling of students beyond the eighth grade Education Week, Statistics, Strategies, and High-Stakes Testing.
The National Academies Press. High school in the early part of the century was a growing phenomenon, but it was still made available primarily to middle- and upper-class students and was generally focused on rigorous college preparatory work. At the turn of the century, the lack of a high school diploma did not necessarily deter young people from going on to successful careers in business or politics.
As the number of students enrolled in high school grew, from approximatelyin to 2. Dorn provided the committee with an overview of trends in graduation rates over the twentieth century, noting three features of the overall trend that stand out: He discussed possible explanations for these changes in school completion rates.
One possible explanation is the influence of changes in the labor market. A number of developments had the effect of excluding increasing numbers of young people from full-time employment in the early decades of the twentieth century, including the mechanization of agriculture, increases in immigration, and the passage of new child labor laws.
As teenagers had more difficulty finding work, increasing numbers of them stayed enrolled in school. The dip during the later s is correspondingly explained by the fact that it was not only adult women who moved into the workforce to replace male workers who left employment for military service, but also teenagers of both sexes.
The postwar dip and plateau also correlates with the growing availability of part-time employment and other labor opportunities for teenagers, which challenged the perception that completing school was important to financial success.
Dorn describes a pattern in which participation in successive levels of schooling gradually increases until the pressure spills over into the next level.
Increasing proportions of the potential student population tend to 1 Dorn based his discussion of the trendlines on the Current Population Survey, census data, and state and district administrative data sources.
Page 11 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Expectations regarding participation in the next level then expand, and the pattern is repeated. In the United States, the norm has moved from primary schooling, to the eighth-grade level, and then to high school completion. State laws regarding school enrollment have moved along with these expectations.
Currently, most states require that students stay enrolled through the age of The steady increase in high school enrollment during the first half of the century thus reflects the gradual development of the now widely shared conviction that all teenagers should complete high school.
Current political discourse reflects a developing expectation that the majority of students will not just complete high school but also participate in some form of higher education. It was not until the s that dropping out was widely considered a social problem because it was not until midcentury that sufficient percentages of young people were graduating from high school so that those who did not could be viewed as deviating from the norm.
Dorn illustrated the views of dropping out that were becoming current in that period with this quotation from sociologist Lucius Cervantes quoted in Dorn, It is from this hard core of dropouts that a high proportion of the gangsters, hoodlums, drug-addicted, government-dependent prone, irresponsible and illegitimate parents of tomorrow will be predictably recruited.
Many jurisdictions responded to the arrival of waves of immigrants by making it more difficult for families to avoid enrolling their children in school, arguing that public schools were the best vehicle for assimilating these new citizens and would-be citizens Education Week, As the children of the lower and middle classes entered high school, however, expectations and graduation standards were lowered.
If high schools were actually providing little benefit for the students on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, according to this reasoning, there was little motivation for increasing the graduation rate from 70 or 80 percent to percent.
Another notable trend was the general decrease in gaps between completion rates for whites and nonwhites and other population subgroups. Page 12 Share Cite Suggested Citation: At the same time, however, alternative notions of school completion have proliferated discussed in greater detail below.
Dorn called attention to the fact that in Florida six different types of diplomas are available and that other states have adopted similar means of marking differing levels of achievement.
The categories of school completion are not fixed and apparently not of equivalent value; it may be that many minority students who have converted statistically from dropouts to school completers have in fact moved to an in-between status that needs to be better understood.
It also complicates policy discussions about social goals for young people, expectations of the education system, and possible solutions to the problem of dropouts. That report provides a wealth of other important information, noting, for example, that Hispanic and African American students are significantly more likely than white students to drop out and that students from poor families are far more likely to drop out than are students from nonpoor families.The Dropout Problem: Losing Ground.
Paul E. Barton. As a result, the issue of high school dropouts has returned to the front burner.
The education pipeline in the United States, – Chestnut Hill, MA: National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy.
Students are still dropping out of high school, but not at a rate of 7, per day. By Lauren Camera, Education Reporter By Lauren Camera, . Key facts about high school dropout rates.
The proportion of youth and young adults residing in the United States who have dropped out of high school has declined from to from 15 to 6 percent, respectively.
Students are still dropping out of high school, but not at a rate of 7, per day. in the number of high school dropouts is not an accident.
W. Bush that required all states to use the. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting, analyzing, and reporting data related to . Failure to complete high school has been recognized as a social problem in the United States for decades and, as discussed below, the individual and social costs of dropping out are considerable.
Social scientists, policy makers, journalists, and the public have pondered questions about why students.