Youth Drop Outs: Problem & Solutions
By Marla Spergel
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The issue of High School dropout is old news. Itís been occurring for decades. Is there a strong policy case that the issue has become more important to address?
Each year 18% of Canadian high school students dropout, costing taxpayers millions of dollars for lost earnings. Associated with dropouts are an increase of health problems, delinquency, crime, substance abuse, economic dependency and lower overall quality of life.
Success in the highly competitive global marketplace is contingent upon a well-educated and well-paid labor force. Concern over Canadaís economic prosperity supports the desire for students to remain in school.
What factors influence the high drop out rates?
Dropping out is more of a process than a decision. Only one third of dropouts discuss their decision with their principal or teacher in advance. 41% of those students indicate that there was no attempt to resolve the problem by school officials
More than 30% of all dropouts have an A or a B average
Dropout patterns are visible in elementary school
Many students come from lower socio-economic families, and have parents who didnít graduate from high school, have low skilled jobs and donít offer support for education to the child
There is a tendency for children who come from single parent families to drop out. This could be due to the poverty issue and not the fact of a single parent rearing.
High level of absenteeism and exhibiting forms of deviant behavior
There is a greater sense of urgency on students to decide on their life direction in high school leading to stress, fear and disillusionment
Dropouts exhibit ďfrustration self-esteemĒ, suggesting schools are not in tune with the needs of these kids
Adequate emotional and instructional support is not evident. The result is a humiliating experience for students who donít perform at the average level, leading to low self-esteem, further achievement difficulties and dropping out of school
Lack of a sense of belonging to the school
The more hours a student spends working at a part-time job, the greater the want is, to leave school
On the positive side, 30 % of all dropouts return to school. Dropouts who come from high socio-economic backgrounds or those who have achieved high grades are also more likely to return to school. The earlier the grade from which a high school student drops out, the less likely they will later complete school. (See Defining Dropouts for more information.)
What can be done to reduce dropping out?
Costs are steep in rescuing dropouts, but the long-term benefits outweigh the expense to the government and the Canadian taxpayer.
Specific recommendations that have been put forward:
Create smaller schools
Establish a safety net program to supply the students with skills, guidance and support
Offer inspiring creative ways of teaching that kids can relate to
Expose students to a broad variety of career opportunities rather than a restricted middle of the road selection
Establish a community mentorship and tutoring program
Insist/encourage parent/family involvement
Actively involve local corporations
Instill a belief amongst Principals and Teachers that all students can learn and that all teachers can teach
Ensure a committed and caring staff
Establish the option for flexible scheduling and alternative programs
Compulsory staff development programs
Emphasize reading and writing projects
Develop programs that show students the relationship between education and the work world
Recognize and nurture the skills and interests of students
Establish a community dropout task force involving parents, business, education, and
To learn more about this topic, check out some of the following links:
Kid Source on Line
School Leavers Survey
Hang in There Donít Be a Dropout
Best Practice Number Eight: Reducing Crime and Supporting Education through a Comprehensive Truancy Reduction Strategy
School Improvement Research Series
The Economic Role of Education
Cognitive, Academic and Personality Characteristics of Early School Leaves
Voices For Children
High School Dropouts
Ministry of Education Royal Commission
Canadian Centre for Adolescent Research: High School Dropout Statistics
Highlights of The New School Program