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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Georgia high on list of 'dropout factories' (Updated)

georgia-dropout-factories

Not the kind of a nickname you want tagged on your local high school.

According to data from John Hopkins University, Georgia's fourth in the country with the highest percentage of "dropout factories" — schools where graduation rates are routinely below 60 percent. And while only 10 percent of the nation's school boast the moniker, they produce the majority of the country's dropouts.

In the Peach State, more than one-third of high schools are considered dropout factories.

The Alliance For Excellent Education, the national policy and advocacy organization that's raising awareness about the problem, says it's not just an inner-city problem.

From the alliance:

Over one half of these schools have student bodies larger than one thousand, but dropout factories are also medium- and small-sized schools; 20 percent of dropout factories are schools with less than four hundred students. And contrary to a common misconception, not all dropout factories are located in urban areas; half of the nation’s dropout factories are located outside of city limits in suburbs, small towns, or rural areas.

The alliance didn't release a list of Georgia schools considered dropout factories. But take a look at the map above and you'll see they stretch across the state.

What's more, these schools disproportionately serve minority students. They're five times more likely to attend a dropout factory than white students, the alliance says. The majority of African-American and Hispanic students who dropped out attended such schools. (You can read a PDF of the alliance's study here.)

Here are stats on the top five states:

top-five-dropout-factory-states-2009

So what can be done? The alliance has some suggestions which could be implemented from the federal level. State lawmakers should also give it a look, lest they want Georgia to pump out — or lose — students who lack the basic skills to work at those newfangled "bio-techno" labs everybody wants to set up shop in the Peach State.

Now, I'm pretty depressed from writing the phrase "dropout factory" over and over again. I gotta go lie down and put some ice on my head.

(UPDATE): Peeled myself off the couch to add two other interesting details from the alliance. Georgia's Class of 2009 students who didn't graduate with their classmates miss out on more than $16.5 billion in wages over the course of their working lifetimes (PDF). Here's another interesting study that shows some of the economic impact metro Atlanta could enjoy if the region's dropout rate was cut in half (PDF).

(Courtesy the Alliance for Excellent Education)

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