Definition & Reasons of a Dropout

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    Definition of a Dropout

    • Dropouts are people aged 16 to 24 who have not completed high school, are not enrolled in high school and who have not completed or are not enrolled in a GED (General Educational Development) program. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that the dropout rate for 2008 was 8.7 percent. This number does not include those who are in the military, in prison or who are homeless.

    Falling Behind

    • Some students fall behind academically and never catch up. This can happen when a student misses a significant amount of school for health or family reasons, or when a student fails to grasp fundamental skills in early education and then does not have the solid foundation to build on in future grades. These students often do not have the parental support to help them get extra tutoring or assistance along the way, or they simply do not get what they need in the classroom. Some students are embarrassed by their poor performance and reluctant to repeat grades once they have failed. Eventually these students find it easier to drop out than to catch up.

    Relevancy of Instruction

    • Effective teachers make classroom instruction relevant to students' lives. They connect their lessons with what students already know and to what is important to students. Still, some students fail to see the link between what they are learning in school and what they want for themselves outside of school. Students who cannot find the relevancy of instruction and who already place little value on education tend to drop out before graduation.

    Family Demands

    • Demands on students outside of school often impact their decision to drop out. Some students drop out once they are old enough to earn money and help their families financially. Others drop out to care for their younger brothers and sisters or to help parents who are sick or disabled. Some students find that their part-time jobs distract from their schoolwork, and eventually they choose their jobs over school. In these cases, the need to support their family outweighs what students perceive are the benefits of staying in school.

    Impact of Dropping Out

    • Students who drop out of school and who do not obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma through a GED program face a difficult road throughout adulthood. They have limited job prospects and make less money than those who finish high school. High school dropouts are more likely to have poor health and to be on government financial assistance during their adult lives.

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