Dropouts Are Expensive

The high school dropout rate is an issue of national concern, but now a study reveals how expensive those dropouts really are. According to an Education Week article:

If half the students who dropped out of the class of 2008 had graduated, they would have generated $4.1 billion more in wages and $536 million in state and local taxes nationally in one average year of their working lives, according to a new analysis.

Dropouts obviously make less money than diploma-earners and pay fewer taxes into the system, but my larger worry is how those in charge go about reducing the dropout rate. I know I get a lot of pressure to “pass” kids or to “make sure” a provide “deals” to help with the graduation rate in my school.

A discussion about dropout rates without including student capacity in the conversation misses the point of why a diploma is ultimately important.

In the past I have asked “what is an acceptable graduation rate?” and wondered if multiple types of diplomas would help address concerns in education. I don’t believe a diploma should be a guarantee; it should be earned, but I am also beginning to believe that four years progress from entry could suffice.

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