Dropout Prevention

In the nation's class of 2012, approximately 1.1 million youth failed to graduate from high school. Boys have slightly lower high school graduation rates than girls. Currently, little more than half of Hispanic, African American, and Native American male students who begin high school will graduate. 

national graduation rates for boys, disaggregated by race

When young people drop out of high school, the impact for the young person and society is tremendous. Youth who fail to complete high school have significantly lower employment rates and earnings, and are also more likely to become involved in criminal activity that can lead to incarceration. As a result, they are far more likely to live in poverty and need the assistance of tax-payer funded services such as Medicaid and food stamps to make ends meet.

Students drop out of school for a variety of reasons that stem from both inside and outside of school walls. Often, students have a long history of struggling in school - being retained in a grade, failing courses, or having behavioral issues - before they stop attending school. Boys of color, in particular, also face being pushed out of school because of harsh school discipline. Suspensions and expulsions from school are far more prevalent for males of color, and particularly for African Americans. Beyond the school, poverty has a significant impact school attendance, the ability to focus while in the classroom, as well as behavior. Family issues such as the pressure on youth to work to help support the family, the need to miss school to care for younger siblings, or unstable housing are examples that can impact school attendance and attachment. In addition, boys of color are more likely to live in communities of concentrated poverty and violence that makes students feel unsafe going to and from school, and leads to reduced attendance.

COSEBOC believes the following policy solutions are needed to keep boys of color engaged in school and increase their graduation rates:

  1. School leaders with an articulated vision and teaching philosophy that all boys of color can, and will, succeed
  2. System-wide use of academic, attendance, and school discipline data to identify students in danger of dropping out and provide supportive services
  3. Sustainable community partnerships to provide students and families with supportive services, develop character and leadership skills, and instill cultural awareness and pride


Relevant Publications/Resources on Dropout Prevention

A Plan for Success - Communities of Color Define Policy Priorities for High School Reform 

Three Steps to Building an Early Warning and Intervention System for Potential Dropouts

The Importance of Being in School: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation's Public Schools