9 Challenges Our Students Face in School Today Part IX: Dropping Out

School can be very challenging for some students and many of them start to contemplate quitting. This article reviews the problem of dropping out and risk factors that are associated with this challenge.

High school dropouts have been an issue for many decades. There was a time, after World War II, when even non-high school graduates could get a decent job. Today, it’s very difficult for a high school graduate to get a job that will support a family. Research shows that 10% of high school students don’t finish high school. Being a member of a minority group, living in poverty, being the victim of bullying and abuse, teen pregnancy, homelessness, and substance abuse all can contribute to a student’s decision to drop out of school. Students who live in poverty are six times more likely to drop out than their wealthier peers.

Because family risk factors make a child high-risk for dropping out, it’s important for teachers to learn as much as possible about the lives of all students, without intruding on their privacy. It can be difficult for a teacher who grew up in, and lives in, a stable home environment to understand and relate to students who don’t have the advantage of such a home. Children who experience four or more of the following family risk factors are considered at risk of not completing their education:

1. Child lives with only one parent.
2. One or both parents dropped out of high school.
3. Family lives in poverty.
4. One or both parents do not have adequate employment.
5. Family is living on welfare benefits.
6. Child does not have access to health insurance.

Students do not suddenly make the decision to drop out. Many dropouts have been performing poorly in school since first grade.

Although dropping out is usually associated with these risk factors, some students drop out because they are bored. A number of students drop out for financial reasons and end up in jobs paying about $10,000 less per year than those who graduate. The percentage of students dropping out varies from state to state. It makes sense that states having large numbers of students with the identified risk factors will have a higher percentage of dropouts.

Students should never feel that dropping out is their only option. With so many external factors surrounding them, students need to feel that they are able to succeed and finish school. Therefore, in the classroom seek to assist your students as best as you can and continue to educate them. Continue to read the other parts of this series to learn more about the challenges students face today.

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