How Can Technology Be Used to Decrease the Dropout Rate?

It seems that the phrase “high school dropout” is often accompanied with the word “crisis.” Depending who you ask, kids everywhere are giving up on education before they obtain a diploma and the situation has never been worse. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that dropouts bring in just $20,241 annually, which is $10,000 less than high school graduates and over $36,000 less than a person holding a bachelor’s degree. The poverty rate for dropouts is over twice as high as college grads, and the unemployment rate for dropouts is generally 4 percentage points higher than the national average. In the end, the lifetime earnings of high school dropouts are $260,000 LESS than peers who earn a diploma.

In response to this crisis, The Tech Edvocate decided to put forth the idea that the explosion of edtech can be leveraged to decrease the drop rate in America, provided that educators have the right tools. In this article, we decided to share with our readers a list of edtech tools that we believe can be used to prevent students from dropping out. However, before we get into that, let’s talk about why we should be concerned about the dropout rate.

Why should I care?

The financial ramifications of dropping out of high school hurt more than the individual. It’s estimated that half of all Americans on public assistance are dropouts. If all of the dropouts from the class of 2011 had earned diplomas, the nation would benefit from an estimated $154 billion in income over their working lifetimes. Potentially feeding that number is the fact that young women who give up on high school are nine times more likely to be, or become, young single mothers. A study out of Northeastern University found that high school dropouts cost taxpayers $292,000 over the course of their lives.

It’s not just about the money though. Over 80 percent of the incarcerated population is high school dropouts – making this an issue that truly impacts every member of the community. Numbers are higher for dropouts of color; 22 percent of people jailed in the U.S. are black males who are high school dropouts. As a society, we are not just paying into public assistance programs for dropouts, but we are paying to protect ourselves against them through incarceration.

I wonder what these numbers would look like if we took the nearly $300K that taxpayers put in over the course of a dropout’s lifetime and deposited it into their K-12 learning upfront. If we invested that money, or even half of it, into efforts to enhance the learning experience and programs to prevent dropping out, what would that do to dropout, poverty and incarceration rates? Right now the process seems to be reactionary. What would it look like if more preventative actions were put in place?

How can technology help?

We live in an era when billions of dollars have been spent on edtech, and fortunately, many of these companies have created amazing products. But which edtech products have the potential to prevent students from dropping out? I am glad you asked.


One of the most popular classroom behavior management apps is ClassDojo. ClassDojo allows teachers to track positive and negative behaviors for each student with just a few clicks. Each student has a unique icon which teachers can click on and note behaviors. Students earn points for good behaviors and lose points for bad behaviors, so it’s easy to incorporate ClassDojo in with a classroom reward system. Another reason ClassDojo is so popular is that it keep parents in the loop. Parents can get updates on how their child’s behavior was that day. If their child gained or lost points, they could see why. Students can also get alerts when their teacher adds or takes away points, so they know what they did without a verbal redirect in front of the class.

This app allows parent and teachers to work together to nip behavior problems in the bud before they cause students to experience academic failure, which is a major factor when it comes to the decision to dropout.

Hero K12

Hero rethinks traditional discipline policies and builds programs to recognize students in a positive way on a school-wide or district-wide scale. While Hero does have a process to manage and track undesirable behaviors and their consequences, Hero is more about recognizing and rewarding students who are on task.

Hero takes a school’s behavior framework such as PBIS, RTI, SEL or other district-led initiatives and builds a system to recognize, reward, and reinforce those behaviors. Hero connects to student information systems and gives teachers a single-sign-on to see their individual class roster the moment they log in.

Hero does simplify the tracking and reporting of tardies and consequences of negative behaviors such as detentions and suspension, but its emphasis on redirection makes it possible to drive a positive school climate and bring everyone – students, teachers, administrators, and parents – into the process. Hero is accessed from a browser, mobile phone, tablet, or any connected device. Hero mobile behavior tracking allows schools to capture behavior where it happens: in the hallways, field trips, bus rides, lunch room, assemblies, or school events.

Hero is one of those apps that is so powerful, it can only be described as transformative. Its emphasis on redirection is its best feature as it creates a positive, inclusive environment. When kids feel as though their voice is heard and that the school climate is inclusive and welcoming, you can’t keep them from attending school.


iStudiez markets itself as the app “you’ll really USE in your daily school life.”  This is an award-winning app that helps students stay focused and organized with their schedule and grades.  It’s more than just a to-do app; it helps you record and reflect on how you are spending your time.  It also helps you track your grades on individual assignments and in classes.  The iStudiez Lite app restricts how many classes and assignments you can track, but there is also an iStudiez Pro option, which – while not free – does offer many more options.  iStudiez time management is only available for iPad, iPhone, and iPod now, but there is a similar alternative for Android called Timetable

How does this app help decrease the dropout rate? Well, let’s say you are a student who works and attends high school. Managing both may become overwhelming for you, you may decide to drop out of school to focus on supporting your family. If you had this app and made better use of your time, maybe you never have to make that decision. Even if you are a high school student with no responsibilities, being organized makes life easier. This increases your chances of succeeding academically.

Are there any products that would add to the list?


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