Nowadays, completion of a high school diploma is a minimum prerequisite to the “good life”. Our children who do not complete high school diminish the prosperity and well -being of our entire nation. America cannot sustain a viable economy and compete with other nations in the twenty first century, and, at the same time, find itself shackled by the costs to human development brought on by cohorts of unprepared youth. We cannot tolerate the negative effects that gaps in dropout rates for Blacks and Latinos and Whites bring on our society: unemployment, ill health, and recidivist incarceration.
Fortunately, the average drop out rate, between the ages of 15 to 24 in the United States, has declined from 6.1% in 1972 to 3.8% in 2006. Females have been successful in decreasing their average rate (3.4%) in contrast to their male counterpart (4.1%).
Among African American and Latino subgroups, the dropout rates depict a mixed history of success and failure. At present, there still is a gap in the high school dropout rates of African Americans and Latinos and Whites. The dropout rates of non-Hispanic whites and Black students are 2.9% and 3.8%, respectively. The most glaring inequity shows up in the dropout rates for Latinos, 7% as of 2006 for those born in the United States and 10% for those born abroad. Moreover, the dropout rates for African American and Hispanic students have fluctuated over the years. For example, the rates for Blacks in 1972, ’73 and ’75 were 9.5%, 9.9% and 11.6% and Latinos jumped from 10.9%, 7.3%, 7.8%; then to 12.3% for the years between 1975 to 1978. Subsequently, in 2005, the dropout rate for Hispanics plunged from 5.5% in 2005 then rose to 7.07% in 2006.
The gap between the White and minority dropout rates implies a need to change the present status of unequal opportunities and access to quality education. The gap also calls for effective dropout prevention programs shaped by heightened awareness and sensitivity to the needs of minority students who find themselves in educational settings that may ignore their values, heritage and cultural experiences and perceive Blacks and Latinos as “others”.
Effective Communities, LLC, advocates dropout prevention programs that initiate systemic and attitudinal change. They recommend strategies that provide personal, one-to-one and small group support and guidance. Prevention programs should also assist students in planning for further education after graduation from high school. Most of all, we can assess how well our prevention programs are by using a rubric model that measures levels of quality instruction and minority students’ increased enrollment in advanced placement courses and classes for the gifted and talented.
Region II Data
Dropout prevention and reentry in New York: New York does not release graduation rates disaggregated by gender and race/ethnicity. Statewide, 60.9% of all students graduate on time. In the New York City metropolitan area, students in urban districts graduate on time at a rate of only 47.4%, compared with 82.9% of students in the surrounding suburban areas (EPE, 2007; Swanson, 2008; U.S. Department of Education, 2007).
Dropout prevention and reentry in New Jersey: In New Jersey students graduate from high school on time at the following rates: all students, 83.3%, male students, 81.1%, female students, 84%, black students, 62.2%, Hispanic students, 64.4%, Asian students, 86.3%, white students, 87.3% (EPE, 2008). Between July 2001 and July 2002, 2.5% of NJ students left grades 10 – 12 without a diploma (Chapman & Hoffman, 2007; Laird, DeBell, Kienzl, & Chapman, 2007).
Dropout prevention and reentry in Puerto Rico: In Puerto Rico, 64.8% of all students graduate on time. The dropout rate as of 2004 was 1% (Chapman & Hoffman, 2007; Laird, DeBell, Kienzl, & Chapman, 2007; Seastrom, Hoffman, Chapman, & Stillwell, 2007).
Dropout prevention and reentry in the Virgin Islands: In 2003, 53.5% of all students in the Virgin Islands graduated on time and the dropout rate was 7.7% (Chapman & Hoffman, 2007; Laird, DeBell, Kienzl, & Chapman, 2007; Seastrom, Hoffman, Chapman, & Stillwell, 2007).