Although graduation rates in high school are essential indicators of how the institutions are ultimately performing, the rates published by the U.S. Department of Education (USDEC) have not been rigorously scrutinized to reveal the true extent of the high school dropout crisis in America. For many years, districts and schools have published misleading graduation rates. For instance, data reported by the U.S. Department of Education (USDEC) fails to account for the reported high number of students repeating the 9th grade (Warren & Edwards, 2005). The numbers merely reflect the enrollment rate at the ninth grade, often called the Freshman year in America. Consequently, the American public knows little concerning the scope and gravity of challenges facing many of the nation’s high schools.
Reputable and independent research has been able to expose the alarmingly low graduations rates especially among Hispanics and African-American who are the largest two minority groups in the United States. These alarming rates were hidden behind inadequate data and inaccurate calculations. Researchers note that high school dropouts are likely to come from divorced families living in abject poverty (Teachman, Paasch & Carver, 1996). They also cite that one of the reasons that lead students to decide to dropout is the issue of grade retention (Bowers, 2010). However, findings by the National Education Longitudinal Survey (NELS) indicate otherwise. According to results published by this survey, it was concluded that graduation tests have insignificant impact on the probability of dropping out among the average high school students (Jacob, 2001).
In a recap, should the U.S. department of education revamp its old system of measuring transition rates from high school to college? In addition, are the large factory model high schools that enroll large numbers of students the reason behind the high dropout rates? Lastly, should the high school education system be redesigned as part of the reform process to increase transition rate to college? These are among the key areas that policy makers need to focus on towards solving the high dropout rates among high school students (Hammond, Ancess & Ort, 2002). In addition, further research needs to be conducted to establish the best way to increase the graduation rate of students from Hispanic and African-American communities.
Bowers, A. J. (2010). Grades and Graduation: A Longitudinal Risk Perspective to Identify Student Dropouts. Journal Of Educational Research, 103(3), 191-207.
Hammond, L. D., Ancess, J., & Ort, S. W. (2002). Reinventing High School: Outcomes of the Coalition Campus Schools Project. American Educational Research Journal, 39(3), 639- 673.
Jacob, B. A. (2001). Getting Tough? The Impact of High School Graduation Exams. American Educational Research Association, 23(2), 99-121.
Teachman, J. D., Paasch, K., & Carver, K. (1996). Social Capital and Dropping Out of School Early. Journal of Marriage and Family, 58(3), 773-783.
Warren, J. R., & Edwards, M. R. (2005). High School Exit Examinations and High School Completion: Evidence from the Early 1990s. American Educational Research Association, 27(1), 53-74.