Dropping Out Of School : A Silent Epidemic

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Dropping out of school has been called a silent epidemic (Bridgeland, DiIulio, & Morison, 2006), a crisis (Rumberger & Lim, 2008), and a challenge (Steinberg, Johnson, & Pennington, 2006). In 2007, approximately 6.2 million people between the ages of 16 and 24 years old were high school dropouts. “Among these dropouts, 60.1% were men, 18.8% were Black, and 30.1% were Hispanic” (Center for Labor Market Studies, 2009, p. 2). Dropping out is costly not only to the student but also to society as well (Lessard et al., 2008). In comparison to students who graduate from high school, dropouts are more likely to have higher rates of unemployment. For example, in October 2005 high school dropouts had an estimated unemployment rate of 32.9% whereas high school graduates not attending college had a rate of 20.6% and graduates who were attending college had a rate of 8.4% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2006). If a dropout does obtain employment, it is estimated that they will have lower earnings than graduates. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau (2006) estimated that high school dropouts have an average annual income of $17,299 while high school graduates and those who have obtained their equivalency earn an average of $26,933 annually (as cited in Alliance for Excellent Education, n.d.). Additionally, dropouts are more likely than their counterparts to have poorer health and higher rates of mortality. “On average, a high school graduate lives nine years longer than a dropout and
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