A Look at Why So Many Kids in the U.S. Are Dropping Out of School

The main reason students leave high school before they graduate may surprise you.

High School Dropout Rates

African American students are more likely than their peers to be high school dropouts. (Photo: Washington Post/Getty Images)

Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.

Every school day, 7000 kids drop out of school.

While the causes vary, new data suggests there are two main reasons students are leaving high school before graduation.

According to a national survey conducted by Everest College, the top reason is the absence of parental support or encouragement. Teen pregnancy ranked second.

More: Obama’s Next Move: Reduce the Dropout Rates Among African American Students

Other reasons include: missing too many school days, failing class, suffering from depression, a lack of interest, and being bullied.

Not graduating from high school costs the students and our economy as a whole. The average annual income for a high school dropout in 2009 was $19,540, while a high school graduate made on average $27,380 per year.

According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, we are going to be in a world of hurt if this continues. "Unless high schools are able to graduate their students at higher rates," they report, "nearly 12 million students will likely drop out over the next decade, resulting in a loss to the nation of $1.5 trillion."

It wasn't always this way, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. In 1970, the United States had the world's highest rate of high school graduation. Today, we are ranked 21st in high school completion.

The Alliance also reports that black students (43 percent) and Hispanic students (42 percent) will not graduate on time with a diploma.

The results of this survey reiterate what Oscar Cruz, the CEO and President of Families in Schools, told TakePart last month. He said, "The importance of the role parents play in supporting their children’s education is not debatable."

"If parents help their children at home, work with schools to support learning, and advocate for their child’s needs," he says, "the chances are that children will do better."

Do you feel parent engagement is key to reducing high school dropout rates? Share your thoughts in comments.

Jenny is the Education Editor at TakePart. She has been writing for TakePart since 2009 and previously worked in film and television development. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee | TakePart.com

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