According to the University of Minnesota, the high school dropout rate in the USA is close to 25% [U of Minnesota study finds that US high school dropout rate higher than thought].
University of Minnesota sociologists have found that the U.S. high school dropout rate is considerably higher than most people think -- with one in four students not graduating -- and has not improved appreciably in recent decades. Their findings point to discrepancies in the two major data sources on which most governmental and non-governmental agencies base their findings.Here's the important question that everyone seems to ignore: What is the optimal high school dropout rate? Surely it shouldn't be zero because that would be setting the bar too low. It probably shouldn't be 50% because that sets the bar too high. What should it be, assuming that lack of ability to complete high school was the only reason for dropping out?
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) is widely used by governmental and non-governmental sources -- from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to the White House -- to report high school dropout rates. The CPS paints a rosy picture, showing dropout rates at about 10 percent in recent years and declining some 40 percent over the past generation. On the other hand, measures of high school completion based on the National Center for Education Statistics’ Common Core of Data survey (CCD) paint a darker picture, with high school completion rates holding steady at about 75 percent in recent decades.
If we're interested in keeping students in high school by addressing those other reasons for dropping out, then how will we know if we're succeeding unless we establish the minimum dropout rate? Is 25% good?
[Photo Credit: "Joining nationwide demonstrations, high-school students in Valparaíso [Chile] take to the streets on May 30  to protest proposed changes in Chile's public education system." Eliseo Fernandez—Reuters /Landov (Encyclopedia Britanica Online)]