Students who complete high school are much more likely to prosper relative to students who drop out of school. Recent data shows that California’s dropout rate is 14.4%. Two years after their scheduled high school graduation, more than one-third of high school dropouts were neither going to school nor working. The average California high school dropout earns $14,226 less per year than students who graduate. During the course of an average lifetime, a high school dropout in California will earn $412,000 less than a high school graduate. These statistics show that dropouts are at an economic disadvantage, one that leads more than two-thirds of dropouts to rely on food stamps during their lifetime.
The economic costs of dropping out of high school significantly impact individuals and California, as reduced earning capacity often produces a greater reliance on government services. California sustains $46 billion in total economic losses from each cohort of 120,000, 20-year olds who never complete high school. This economic impact is based on cost of services, loss of taxes paid on higher earnings, and higher incidences of incarceration.
The compounding evidence that dropping out of high school disadvantages the individual and society should motivate educators, school districts, local communities, and the state to prioritize reducing the dropout rate.
According to a study on 10th grade dropouts, the primary reason for dropping out of school was that they: did not like, were failing, or could not keep up with school, or had too many absences, or got a job. As curriculum requirements are debated, it should be considered that a key frustration of many dropouts is the lack of academic alternatives to the college prepatory track. The diminished, and in many cases eliminated, course offerings in Career Technical Education have impacted student interest in school.
There are many solutions, like adding more CTE courses, which can be implemented to address the dropout rate and encourage young adults on a path toward personal achievement and community involvement.
Here are some links to information related to dropout statistics in California:
Why Students Drop Out of High School, Comparison of Three National Surveys (pdf)
Early Predictors of High School Graduation and Dropout (pdf)
California’s High School Dropouts, Examining the Fiscal Costs (pdf)