Report: Solutions to dropout crisis must be coordinated with outside agencies

Research shows that most risk factors influencing student dropout rates are centered outside of school, making it critical for schools to coordinate with service agencies to solve the dropout crisis, according to a new policy brief released by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Nearly 7,000 students drop out of school every day in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s also been reported that high-poverty schools end up graduating fewer than 70 percent of their seniors. 

No single factor explains or predicts dropping out, according to William Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center and author of the new brief, “Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking — Dropout Prevention.”

Instead, multiple risk factors determine the likelihood of a student dropping out, including:

  • Socioeconomic status
  • Whether the student holds a job
  • The educational attainment of the student’s parents
  • Disruptions in the family
  • Low educational expectations
  • High-risk peer groups
  • Low achievement
  • Poor attendance
  • Misbehavior

“The motto ‘it takes a village’ really does apply in situations where a student is at risk for dropping out,” Mathis said. “Schools must coordinate with social and health agencies to address underlying causes, as well as provide more academic support, so more of our students in the United States make it to graduation day — multiple risk factors must be addressed with multiple strategies.”

If policymakers truly want to address the dropout crisis, they should implement high-quality early education programs, provide academic support to students and require students to attend school until they reach age 18 or graduate, Mathis said.

The consequences of dropping out of school are stark — both for individuals and states. Research continues to show students who graduate from high school earn more money, have higher employment rates and lower incarceration rates, as well as better health histories, compared with students who drop out of school.