New research on high school dropout rate

Danielle Nordine

University sociology professor John “Rob” Warren discovered national high school graduation rates are much lower than commonly thought.

“For a long time, we’ve been taught that (the high school dropout rate) is at about 10 percent and is going down,” Warren said.

But the new research by Warren found the dropout rate is closer to 30 percent and seems to be getting worse.

The research is published in an article titled “Is the Glass Emptying or Filling Up: Reconciling Divergent Trends in High School Completion and Dropout,” and appeared in the September issue of the journal Educational Researcher.

Warren attributed the discrepancy in statistics to the way dropout rate information is gathered nationally.

Most of the information gathered with regard to high school completion, he said, comes from a single federal survey, which is usually conducted in people’s homes.

Because people are required to answer face to face, Warren said there is an “embarrassment issue” for a person to acknowledge someone in his family had dropped out of high school.

He said the more pessimistic figure seems to be the more accurate one. That’s because the data in Warren’s study doesn’t include GED students as graduates, he said.

“High school graduation rates can be a political hot potato issue,” Warren said.

If graduation rates appear higher, then it looks like public education is doing a better job, he said.

Warren also said the dropout rate depends on geographic and racial demographics. For example, he said blacks and American Indians tend to have a higher dropout rate.

Minnesota has a high school graduation rate of about 85 percent, Warren said.

Alyssa Steimann, an officer on the College of Education and Human Development undergraduate student board, said addressing the high school dropout issue is important to the board.

She said the CEHD plans to utilize the fact the University is a research institution to look into why students are dropping out of high school.

Steimann said the board was also looking at what the University could do to prepare future high school teachers.