President Obama’s goal to graduate nine out of 10 students from high school by the year 2020 may not be quite on pace, but progress is definitely being made. A new study shows that the number of schools termed “dropout factories” has decreased since 2002 and more than 100,000 students have gotten a high school diploma because of that.
To be termed a dropout factory, a school must have fewer than 60 percent of students who started as freshmen still enrolled four years later. While these results are very encouraging, there would need to be a fivefold increase to take place for the 2020 goal to be reached. What this study does show is that the schools termed dropout factories can be fixed. Tennessee, Texas, New York and Georgia have found tactics that work to lower the dropout rates in their schools. Data has been collected to show what schools are having problems, what students dropout and what results work to keep students on track for graduation.
The total number of schools labeled dropout factories has decreased from 2,007 in 2002 to 1,746 in 2008 on a nationwide scale. The national graduation rate also rose from 72 percent in 2001 to 75 percent in 2008. It is important to note that the increase in graduation rates and decrease in the number of dropout factories happened while states were making their curriculum more difficult and students were required to take more math and science than in the past. Some of the tactics that have been found successful include placing graduation coaches in schools in Georgia. These coaches were able to guide and help students who were on the brink of dropping out of school. In Tennessee and West Virginia, students who drop out of school lose their driver’s licenses. Students who struggle in elementary and high school are flagged early through warning systems in Louisiana, South Carolina and Alabama. States like New York and Indiana have also changed things around and over 30 states have risen the mandatory attendance age to 17 or 18 to make sure students graduate.
This study shows that students can be helped and graduation rates can be raised. By next year all states will be measuring using the same calculation which will eliminate some unreliable statistics concerning differentiation between students who transfer schools and those who actually drop out. By getting the right solutions to the kids that need them, it has been proven that the high dropout rates can be turned around.