NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Student Drop Out Rates Rising

October 14, 1997

Data on how many youngsters are dropping out of school and why are hard to come by, experts say. Only 23 states track why students leave school. But the information available suggests that national drop-out rates hit a four-year high of 12 percent in 1995.

  • About 9 percent of white students left high school prematurely in 1995.
  • That compares to a 12 percent rate for blacks and 30 percent for Hispanics.
  • Although drop-out rates for blacks have been declining every year since 1979, rates for Hispanics -- at more than twice the national average -- are particularly worrisome to educators, personnel specialists and policy makers.

In August 1997, Michigan officials reported the state's high school drop-out rate jumped nearly 50 percent in the 1995-96 school year.

Given the dearth of national drop-out data, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is leading a movement to make drop-out research and prevention a national priority. He wants all states to collect uniform data about which students leave school before graduating. And he wants the Department of Education to collect and distribute information about effective drop-out prevention strategies.

Source: Editorial, "Schools Need Answers to Rising Drop-Out Rates," USA Today, October 14, 1997.


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