Dropping Out of High School the Way Teachers See It

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In the modern world, when theories of teaching emerge regularly to sink even faster, there is one set of ideas that seems quite promising. It is important that “Central to constructivism is the notion that learners play an active role in ‘constructing their own meaning” (Cornu & Peters, 2005, 50) and presupposes that “knowledge is seen as created rather than received” (Holt-Reynolds, 2000, 22). Indeed, as Gordon (2009) emphasizes, “In the past few decades, a constructivist discourse has emerged as a very powerful model for explaining how knowledge is produced in the world, as well as how students learn” (Gordon, 2009, 39). Focusing on “individual students developing” (Richardson, 2003, 1627), teachers will be able to learn the reasons for students dropping out of high school. In the given paper, the key reasons for students to drop out as teachers see them are described.

It seems that at present, high-school dropout rates are growing in the USA increasingly. As the research conducted by Badertscher, Georgia is notorious for its recent increase of rural high-schoolers dropout: “Nearly a third of all Georgia students fail to finish high school in four years” (Badertscher, 2012, para. 1). According to the recent data, In Georgia, the dropout rates made 64.7%, which is “well below the 80 percent graduation rate that the old formula produced” (Badertscher, 2012, para. 2). The given problem seems to be nationwide, yet these are the rural schools which are affected the most: “Among Rural 800 districts in the 15 target states, just over 6 in 10 students can be expected to graduate, compared with 70% among other rural districts and 67% among non-rural districts” (Johnson, Strange & Madden, 2010, 3). As for Mississippi, another state with a rural high school dropout problem, the rates made 55% in 2010 (High school graduation rates, 2010), which meant a considerable increase. However, Tennessee should be considered under a threat as well – its rural dropout rate made 39.9% in 2010 (Shuger, 2010, 3). Last, but not least, Alabama reached 43% dropout rates in rural high schools in 2005 and does not seem to get this rate a single percent down (SEF, 2008).

It must be admitted that the real cost of students’ dropouts is really high, not only for the students themselves, but also for the society and for schools which the students used to study: “The costs associated are large, both for the student who drops out and for society as well” (Tyler, 2009). To be more exact, the students are left with low salaries: “The most obvious cost to failing to complete high school is lower expected lifetime earnings” (Tyler, 2009), while the has-been students are likely to earn less money, be teen parents and raise unhappy children with health problems (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2007). In addition, high schools suffer as well: “Arizona could save as much as $265 million in health care costs over the lifetimes of each class of dropouts had they earned their diplomas” (Guiding Principles, n.d.). Moreover, economics suffers: high-schoolers graduation “is a benefit to the public of nearly $90 billion for each year” (Levin & Rouse, 2012). Being “America’s forgotten institution” (CED Guest Author, 2011), rural schools yet play a great role in USA education.

There are various reasons why students drop out of high school; even teachers admit that there is more to it than meets the eye. However, when it comes to defining who is to blame for the dropout rates increase, teachers tend to claim that the dropouts are caused by students themselves: “76% of the teachers placed most of the responsibility for the dropout problem on the students; only 13% said that teachers were responsible” (Burrus & Roberts, 2012). As for the reasons that make students drop out of high schools, Lyons, Choi & McPhan (2009) name the fact that young people “see literacy and schooling as a way out of town and little else” (106). In another attempt to explain the high dropout rates, Steinberg (2000) focused on “a disproportionate number of African-American and Latino students” (3). Moreover, the fact that students drop out of high school can be explained by the students’ attitude is also considered by teachers: “At-risk students are bored and disengaged” (Understanding and reporting on academic rigor, 2008, 7). Finally, according to Martin (2012), out-of-school activities can be quite an influential factor: “Students might get sidetracked with a full time job or get involved in a gang or some other unsavory activity” (Martin, 2012, para. 4). Therefore, it is obvious that teachers see the aspect of involvement and priorities as the key factor that defines whether the student is going to continue his/her studies or drop out of high school. Despite the fact that students offer more than exhaustive explanations as to why they leave high school, teachers’ opinion is essential as well, since teachers can offer a more objective vision of the situation. Incorporating the evidence from students and teachers, one can possibly work on the means to stop the students’ dropout.


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Badertscher, N. (2012, April 10). Under new formula, Georgia graduation rate reset to 67.4 percent. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Web.

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Steinberg, A. (2003). Reinventing high school: Six journeys of change. In Reinventing high school: Six journeys of change (pp. 1-11). Washington, DC: Jobs for the Future. Web.

Tyler, J. H. (2009).. Finishing high school: Alternative pathways and dropout recovery. America’s High Schools, 19(1). Web.

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