The United States is facing a dropout crisis with far reaching consequences. More than a fifth of the U.S. population ages 18-24 have neither a high school diploma nor a GED. Students from low-income families drop out at six times the rate of those from high-income families. Students who fail to complete high school are less likely than others to be employed, more likely to be receiving public assistance, and much more likely to be incarcerated. All of society suffers as each high school dropout costs the public sector $139,100 in reduced tax payments, $40,500 in increased public health costs, $26,600 from increased criminal activity, and $3,000 in increased welfare costs on average over the course of a lifetime.
As the chief executives of their states, governors are in an extraordinary position to make the changes needed to ensure that all students graduate high school ready for college, work, and life. Governors are taking a two-pronged approach, focusing on both dropout prevention and dropout recovery. The NGA Center report, Achieving Graduation for All: A Governor's Guide to Dropout Prevention and Recovery outlines strategies that governors can take to counteract the dropout crisis. These include, but are not limited to, raising the maximum compulsory schooling age, supporting early warning data systems, and dual enrollment programs.
As part of NGA Center's dropout prevention and recovery work, grants were awarded to six states – Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Tennessee and West Virginia – to develop comprehensive state dropout prevention and recovery policies. For more information about each state's grant objectives, visit State Strategies to Achieve Graduation for All.
For more information on the NGA Center's broader high school reform work, visit High School Redesign.
NGA Center Resources
- State Policies to Reengage Dropouts. Efforts to improve educational attainment are hampered by the high school dropout crisis. At a time when governors are calling for changes to improve higher education access and success, more than 1 million youth ages 16 to 19 are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school diploma. Each year, an additional 390,000 youth drop out of school.
- Accelerating the Agenda: Actions to Improve America's High Schools. This publication gauges state progress since the release of the 2005 Action Agenda for Improving America's High Schools and reiterates that the agenda for state action must continue to center on college- and career-readiness to help maintain U.S. competitiveness.
- Implementing Graduation Counts: State Progress to Date, 2009. In 2005, all 50 state governors committed to implement voluntarily a common formula for calculating their state's high school graduation rate by signing the National Governors Association (NGA) Graduation Counts Compact. This report outlines the progress of implementation nationally and calls on states to include additional student outcomes such as in-grade retention rates and high school dropout rates.
- An Action Agenda for Improving America's High Schools. This 2005 Education Summit Action Agenda identifies steps states can follow to raise graduation rates and close preparation gaps.