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Do Now #23: Why Do So Many Students Drop Out of High School?

| March 9, 2012 | 2 Comments
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Do Now

More than one out of five high school students in California drop out of school. Answer one or more of these questions: What do you think is the biggest reason why so many students don’t make it to graduation? Do you know of someone who dropped out? What do you think was the cause?

Introduction

More than 20 percent of California high school students drop out of school before graduation, according to 2009 state education data. That’s a lot of students! To get a sense of just how many, imagine sitting in your math class and counting out every fifth student sitting in class with you. In a class of 30, that would be six students.

Of course, 20 percent is just the average dropout rate in California. Some schools have a much lower rate, but for others, it’s much, much higher. And in many cases, it’s low-income areas with large minority student populations that have some of the highest dropout rates.

For instance, in 2009 more than one third of California’s African American public high school students didn’t graduate. That’s far above the rate for any other ethnic group. Hispanics had the second highest rate, at 27 percent, according to the state’s data.

The dropout rate differences between school districts also varied greatly. In Oakland, for instance, the dropout rate in 2009 was 40 percent, one of the highest in the state (up from 28 percent the previous year).  But directly across the bridge in San Francisco, the rate was only 9 percent (down from 18 percent in 2008).

Search for dropout rates by individual school, district, and county across California.

Resource

Watch Oakland Program Aims to Pique Girls’ Interest in Science, Tech Careers on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

PBS NewsHour segment Oakland Program Aims to Pique Girls’ Interest in Science, Tech Careers
As part of the NewsHour’s American Graduate series, correspondent Spencer Michels reports on Techbridge, an after-school program based in Oakland, Calif., that shows hundreds of female students a path to pursuing careers in science and technology, while also trying to minimize the chances of them dropping out of school.


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.


 

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Category: Do Now, Do Now: Government and Civics

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About the Author ()

Matthew Green runs KQED’s News Education Project, a new online resource for educators and the general public to help explain the news. The project lives at kqed.org/lowdown.