Don't Call Them Dropouts

Posted on: May 20, 2014

America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest partnership dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth, is taking the first step in changing the conversation about young people that do not finish school on time. In an unprecedented report that includes first-hand accounts from young people, “Don’t Call Them Dropouts” puts a human face on the statistics.  The just released report tells personal stories of students who don’t graduate from high school and sheds new light on how to help.

According to “Don’t Call Them Dropouts”, students who leave high school without graduating say they do so not out of boredom or lack of motivation, but because they are overwhelmed by the effects of toxic living conditions on their daily lives, including homelessness, violent surroundings, abuse or neglect, catastrophic family health events, and the absence of caring adults who can help them stay in school. 

“This report gives a voice to the thousands of students who have disappeared from our structured classrooms and we've heard firsthand the reasons why so many of them have disengaged,” said Paul Luna, Helios Education Foundation President and CEO and board member of America’s Promise Alliance. “The dropout crisis isn’t just about those forgotten students, it's about us, it’s about all students, it’s about our community and it’s ultimately about our future.  We must recognize the urgency of these efforts and pool our collective resources to put all students, including those who have dropped out, on a path toward postsecondary education success.”

In the largest nationwide study of its kind to date, young adults who left high school without graduating spoke at length about their lived experiences and reasons they did not complete high school on time. As the nation reaches the all-time high of an 80 percent on-time high school graduation rate, this report listens deeply to what the remaining 20 percent say is happening in their lives, and what they need to stay in school. Their answers defy some common beliefs about why they do not graduate on time, while giving deeper meaning to others.

The “Don’t Call Them Dropouts,” report is based on research conducted by the America’s Promise Alliance Center for Promise at Tufts University and was funded by Target. It is part of the GradNation campaign to reach the national goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.

Click here to view the full report and view the Don't Call Them Dropouts Documentary video.

Category: College and Career Readiness

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