Combating High Dropout Rates

A New York Times op-ed published in January put forth a convincing argument for the investment of tax dollars in reducing the number of high school dropouts. The authors, Henry M. Levin and Cecilia E. Rouse, estimated that “each new graduate confers a net benefit to taxpayers of about $127,000 over the graduate’s lifetime,” and concluded that increasing the graduation rate is indispensable to achieving long-term economic growth and reducing income inequality.

Although the authors did not specifically state how taxpayer money should be used to reduce America’s noticeably high dropout rate, they did mention a few ideas that could help.

“Rigorous evidence gathered over decades suggests that some of the most promising approaches need to start even earlier: preschool for 3 and 4 year-olds, who are fed and taught in small groups, followed up with home visits by teachers and with group meetings of parents; reducing class size in the early grades; and increasing teacher salaries from kindergarten through 12th grade.”

Levin and Rouse made it clear that despite a lack of consensus on the most effective methods of improving the U. S. education system, it would be folly not to invest in reducing the number of high school dropouts. President Obama, in his State of the Union Address, has asked “every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen,” but according to the authors, it is not enough.  Programs that embrace small learning communities and “individualized instruction from dedicated teachers” would go much further in producing more qualified and productive graduates.

Posted by: Pokyee Yu

Sources: The New York Times, C-SPAN

Photo Credit: Graduation courtesy of flickr user ajschwegler

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