About the high school dropout rate

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Good afternoon,

In a release listing bills passed in the legislative session, Gov. John Carney pointed to a higher graduation rateand lower dropout rate as evidence that the state’s education system is improving.

The progress may reduce the pressure to pass legislation calling for students to stay in school until age 18.

The bill, which was reported out of committee but was not voted on by either the House or Senate, would raise age students can drop out from 16 to 18. A number of states have moved to the 18 age.

The legislation sounds like a good idea, but if not accompanied by a strategy to address the reasons for dropping out might simply warehouse young people for a couple of extra years. Adding programs could sharply boost the costs of this bill.

Meanwhile, employers continue to complain about a lack of workforce readiness among existing high school grads. Grads often lack basic math and language skills, not to mention the social skills that are needed in customer-facing jobs that are readily available these days.

What we don’t want to see is an uptick in the dropout rate, due to a tight labor market where employers may have jobs available.

Prospects are limited for dropouts, given their lack of education and workplace requirements that often bar those under 18, due to safety and other reasons.

One possibility is using some of the lessons learned in the highly regarded James Groves high school program that gives dropouts a diploma rather than a GED by taking classes, rather than passing a test.

Many Groves grads have gone on to graduate from college or move up to better jobs.

Another is to begin to move away from “teaching to tests” and offer career options for today’s ecoomy in all high schools.

This newsletter will take a couple of days off for theFourth of July holiday and returns on Monday.

Have a happy, safe holiday. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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