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Despite progress, dropouts remain serious problem

By Steve Majors Oct. 27, 2015

You don’t hear much about a “dropout crisis” anymore. Over the last three decades we’ve made tremendous strides in preventing high school dropouts, and we appear on track to hit the nationwide goal of 90 percent on-time graduation by 2020.

But as Communities In Schools Executive Vice President Gary Chapman writes in the San Antonio Express-News, it’s still far too early to declare victory. In many communities and for many subgroups of the population, the dropout crisis is just as real as ever. Until we find a solution for the toughest cases, millions of young people will struggle to find a pathway out of poverty and into opportunity.

Estimates are that nearly 1.3 million students from any one cohort group (class of 2016, for example) will fail to graduate high school. For Texas alone, it’s more than 135,000 students per class. Cohort after cohort, those numbers add up: Nearly 7 percent of young people aged 16 to 24 are not currently enrolled in high school and have not earned a diploma or alternative credentials. Despite all the promises of the public education system, these young people have, in fact, been “left behind,” and their sense of hopelessness can be palpable.

Chapman and co-author Cairen Withington of the National Dropout Prevention Center Network offer some ideas of what organizations and community members can do to give hope and purpose to the young people left behind by the education system. Read more here in the San Antonio Express-News.