Today I will be discussing the issue of high school dropouts in the US, focusing on the reasons that make students quit school. As the Alliance for Excellent Education [AEE] states, about 7,000 students fail to complete a school course every day (1). The problem has acquired a threatening scale since dropouts face adverse consequences like limited job opportunities, lower salaries, mental and physical health problems, and increased risks of incarceration. In general, three major categories of reasons for dropping out can be determined, resulting from students’ personal characteristics. Even though it is impossible to eliminate high school dropout rates due to the vast number of reasons, identifying the factors for high dropout rates can decrease rates, helping schools target the students at risk.
To get started, let’s look at the ethical and socio-economic background of the US high school dropouts. According to the AEE, students of color seem to be at higher risk since over half of all dropouts every year are African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and American Indian (1). Besides, children from low-income households are seven times more likely to quit school than their peers from middle- and high-income families (Lee and Burkam 4). Racial and social inequalities are a significant reason that limits some students’ opportunities for education and work. Students from low-income or ethnic minority areas, as well as single-parent households, are more exposed to social risk factors like weak health care delivery systems, housing instability, food insecurity, and social pressure.
Similarly, academic background often plays an essential role in students’ decisions to interrupt their studies. The characteristics of a school, such as resources, curriculum, teachers’ engagement and support, and school disciplinary policy can be detrimental to a child’s motivation (Staresina). The risks are especially high for poverty-stricken neighborhoods; however, even in affluent districts some students may end up dropping out of school. Low expectations or lack of interest in education from parents’ side can cause a similar attitude in children. Teachers and parents should monitor the child’s engagement and academic performance to notice possible issues as they occur and take measures if needed, such as helping the child with studies or switching schools.
Besides, the level of a student’s commitment and academically related behaviors can determine the high school dropout rates. For instance, lack of credits earned, poor grades and attendance, school disciplinary encounters, and course failures can decrease students’ motivation to proceed with their education (Burrus and Roberts 4). Developing healthy attitudes and behaviors to the educational process is critical as it can help children overcome the difficulties they face during the school course.
Additionally, I would like to name several personal reasons some students might have for quitting school. For example, as Staresina reports, becoming a parent, providing care for a family member, getting a job to support themselves, or repeating a grade are common reasons for students quitting high school. Besides, the lack of engagement with school, low interest in the class, and struggling with tests also add to the high dropout rates in the US.
To sum up, the reasons for students’ dropping out of school can vary, but determining the risk factors helps educational institutions identify the students at risk who require additional support in obtaining their diploma. In general, socio-economic and academic backgrounds, as well as academically related behaviors and individual challenges of students, are primary reasons for the growing dropout rates. I believe that considering the tendencies and causes that make students quit school can help us develop strategies to fight off the issue.
Alliance for Excellent Education. “High School Dropouts in America.” FactSheet, 2010, pp. 1-3, Web.
Burrus, Jeremy, and Richard D. Roberts. “Dropping Out of High School: Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Remediation Strategies.” R&D Connections, no. 18, 2012, pp. 1-9, Web.
Lee, Valerie E., and David T. Burkam. “Dropping Out of High School: The Role of School Organization and Structure.” Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2001, pp. 1-41, Web.
Staresina, Lisa. Dropouts. Education Week, 2011, Web.