A recent study by the Department of Education found that 31 percent of American students were dropping out or failing to graduate in the nation's largest 100 public school districts.Is 31% too high? I suspect so, but it depends on so many things. The real question—the one that's never addressed in the popular media—is, "What should be the ideal success rate in high school?" Clearly it shouldn't be zero or even 50% because we need to have public high schools that educate the majority of students to the level of high school graduate.
Should it be 100%? Of course not. It would be silly to have a situation where everyone was capable of graduating from high school. High school wouldn't mean anything. In order to be meaningful, a high school graduation diploma has to be a significant achievement and that means that some students won't succeed.
What's the ideal number? Does a 20% "dropout" rate sound about right to you? It does to me, but I'd like to hear other opinions. A 20% "dropout" rate translates to an 80% success rate. It means that the degree of difficulty of high school courses is set at a level achievable by the vast majority of students, but not all. The bar isn't too high and it's not too low. The important point is that there is a bar.