Students in ‘Dropout Factory’ Schools Explore Why Kids Quit

BY Leah Clapman  June 22, 2011 at 12:36 PM EDT

Nationally, about 70 percent of U.S. students graduate on time with a regular diploma, according to data compiled by Education Week. For Hispanic and African American students, the proportion drops to about 50 percent. And there are currently more than two million teenagers attending so-called “dropout factory” schools where only 60 percent of the students finish high school in four years.

What does that phenomenon look like to students in so-called “dropout factories”? PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs teamed up with the People Production House’s Radio Rootz program to explore why kids quit school and how the teachers and students themselves feel about being labeled a failing school.

Many of the Radio Rootz journalists come from these very “dropout factories” in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Here are their reports:

On June 22, Radio Rootz reporters will join journalists, community and education policy leaders in Washington to discuss their work and efforts to improve educational opportunities.

The event is part of the American Graduate program funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Launched in May 2011, American Graduate brings public media outlets together with community organizations to improve student engagement and raise academic achievement.

The NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan will be moderating a panel discussion at the June 22 event. Have questions on the project or dropout rates in U.S. high schools? Leave them here or tweet them to @Hari.