The Dropout Crisis

Every 26 seconds one of our kids drops out of high school — that's 1.3 million students each year. On average, only 72% of America's children graduate from high school.

In Washington, DC, the official graduation rate is 59%, although that number varies widely by school. It dropped considerably in 2010-2011 when DC began using the new standardized method mandated by the federal government. Nationally and locally, the numbers for Latino and African American kids are even lower, and for minority males the number has been consistently near or below 50%.

The economic impact of children dropping out of high school amounts to nearly 350 billion dollars over their lifetimes in lost wages, productivity, and taxes. The median income for a high school dropout is $12,000 a year — compared with $22,000 (on average) for young adults with a high school diploma. Beyond these numbers are the devastating social effects of low literacy and poor academic skills on the physical, cultural, and civic health of our communities and our country.

Take a look at the media stories, research, and reports in this section to learn more about the dropout crisis in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. — and what's being done to keep our kids in school and on the path to graduation and successful lives. For a brief overview of the dropout issue and prevention programs that work, read the two articles below.

Public Media Stories About Dropout Prevention

WAMU 88.5, NPR, PBS, and other media outlets are looking at the causes and consequences of the dropout problem, which affects about 1.3 million students each year and has been called "the civil rights issue of our time." See all public media stories >

Featured Story

School Reform Program Targets Students at Risk of Falling Behind, Dropping Out

Currently implemented in 44 U.S. schools, a data-driven dropout prevention program called Diplomas Now targets students who start to fall behind in middle school, and offers them nurturing, mentoring relationships. Ray Suarez reports on how a Baton Rouge middle school was able to turn itself around by adopting this approach. See full story at PBS NewsHour.

News, Research, and Reports

We've created a library of research briefs, reports, articles, and news stories about the dropout crisis in Washington, D.C. and the nation. See research and reports >

Local and National Dropout Prevention Organizations

Browse the list of national and local organizations involved in youth development initiatives and dropout prevention programs.