High school Dropout Rates Up; Are Math and Science the Cause?

More rigorous math and science requirements for high school graduation are in place, and simultaneously dropout rates in the country are up.

Research back to 1990 showed that the US dropout rate rose to a high of 11.4 percent when students were required to take six math and science courses, compared with 8.6 percent for students who needed less math and science courses in order to graduate.

The dropout rate is up to 5 percentage points higher when gender, race and ethnicity are considered.

William F. Tate, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences says that part of the problem with adding math and science courses to requirements was that a significant number of students weren’t prepared to meet the revised requirements.

Andrew Plunk, a postdoctoral research fellow in the psychiatry department at Washington University School of Medicine, says the study highlights that the one-size-fits all approach to education requirements is not ideal due to various demographic groups, states and school districts that are all different.

When educational policies cause an unintentional consequence like an increase in students dropping out, the effects reverberate far beyond the classroom walls.

“Communities with higher dropout rates tend to have increased crime,” says Plunk. “Murders are more common. A previous study estimated that a 1 percent reduction in the country’s high school dropout rate could result in 400 fewer murders per year.”

While I do feel that the high drop out rate could be blamed on math and science courses, I don’t feel that the US should ease up on those requirements. I think the key is to better prepare the students. We need to make sure the students are ready for the requirements and aim to help all students graduate high school.

Choose your Reaction!