U.S. Wrestles With Chronic High School Dropout Problem

Published: September 14, 2006

WASHINGTON – A new study indicates that U.S. students who drop out of school suffer greater consequences than dropouts in many other industrialized nations.

The study was released Sept. 12 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based group composed of 30 nations. Formulating and analyzing a set of internationally applicable indicators, the report, titled Education at a Glance, provides OECD member nations with valuable data regarding the systemic patterns that characterize their individual educational systems as well as their progress comparable to other participating nations.

This year, the study shows that in the United States, high school dropouts earn 65 percent of what high school graduates make. High school graduates, in turn, earn 58 percent of what college graduates make. Such income gaps are not reflected in the figures of any other nation.

Furthermore, 44 percent of students without high school diplomas make half of the nation’s median income or less. Of the 29 other member nations, only Denmark has a higher proportion of dropouts with similarly low incomes.

——Article Continues Below——

Get the latest industry news and research delivered directly to your inbox.

Age is another point of separation. Adults in their 20s and 30s are more likely than older adults to have dropped out from high school.

Such low figures come as a surprise, especially considering the average amount of money spent on an American student from elementary school through college: $12,023 per year (only Switzerland spends more). And yet, approximately one-third of students in the United States either never finish high school or don’t finish on time.

The United States currently ranks 11th among nations in the proportion of its adults age 24 to 34 that have completed high school.

The figures, however, can be partly explained by the uniqueness of the U.S. labor market. As opposed to other nations, the U.S. does not protect people with weak education qualifications through regulations or tax systems designed to assist the low skilled.

Unfortunately, adult education and job training programs are rarely utilized by dropouts and as a result have very little impact on the employment rate among dropouts age 25 to 64.

An official with the nonprofit American Youth Policy Forum, succinctly sums up what is needed to improve the current high school graduation rate: specialized teaching, healthy relations with adults and coursework that is germane to student goals and aspirations.

Though the United States remains the leader in tertiary education, the study indicates that the nation. is losing ground even in this arena.

Despite its academic woes, the economic hegemony of the United States remains unchallenged. A forceful presence in the theatre of globalization, it remains to be seen how the country’s economy will react to the increasingly dismal results of its educational system.

Posted in: News

Tagged with:

Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series