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The economic impact of dropouts

Really interesting story from last week.

The Alliance for Excellent Education in Washington, D.C., analyzed data from the nation’s 45 largest metropolitan areas to see how high school dropouts influence not only their own lives but also their community’s overall economic health.

The group, which promotes school changes that result in more graduates, has done similar state-level studies before but none as specific as “The Economic Benefits From Halving the Dropout Rate: A Boom to Businesses in the Nation’s Largest Metropolitan Areas.”

“This is a problem that is solvable,” said Bob Wise, president of the alliance and a former governor of West Virginia. “We wanted to help build the public will to take steps necessary to turn dropouts into graduates.”

The alliance’s figures for schools in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and 12 surrounding counties estimate that 32 percent of students in the Class of 2008 didn’t graduate in four years and with a regular diploma.

The findings are higher than what districts typically report as their high school completion rates. The alliance used data reported by the districts, along with an index used to calculate graduation rates. The researchers estimated that 1,000 additional graduates could add $1.3 million to local and state tax proceeds each year.

Seems to me this is the sort of thing that ought to get a higher profile. The Alliance for Excellent Education’s website is here, their profiles for all those big metro areas is here, and the report for Houston is here. Note that they’re referring to the ten-county metro area, so this is way bigger than just HISD, and the economic benefits that would be gained by achieving the goal of halving the dropout rate would be spread out quite a bit. Take a look at the report and see what you think.

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  1. Bill Betzen says:

    I have been studying this issue for years and I am certain the economic costs for dropping out are much higher than indicated in this report. I also strongly believe that we can cut the dropout rate in half with very simple 10-year time-capsule and 8th grade class reunion projects in middle school, and similar projects reinforcing the future focus in high school with a similar 10-year class reunion plan. Both projects would help secure a more future focused school environment. We would all win with minimal costs. Our middle school project is costing less than $500 annually. Our gun vault was donated, something easy to secure. See for details and results since 2005.

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