What Have We Learned From the Dropout Crisis?

BY Kelly Chen  December 27, 2012 at 1:15 PM EDT


In Clark County, Nevada, Chaparral High School’s turnaround program had administrators going door-to-door to bring dropouts back to the classroom. Photo by Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour.

Here’s a statistic we’ve reported on all year: One in four students drops out before he or she finishes high school. That’s an estimated 7,000 students quitting school every day, or about a million each year. Over the past year, the NewsHour’s American Graduate team has traveled the country to find the stories behind the numbers.

We found problems in many places, no matter what their size or situation — from small towns struggling to keep up with a booming economy, to big towns coping with the recession.

Many communities were asking the same questions: How do we keep students engaged? Are teachers doing enough? Are we expecting too much from teachers? Are we teaching to the test or not testing enough? Are we testing the right thing? How do we fix a failing school?

As part of the American Graduate initiative, major public media hubs have looked to teachers, education officials, non-profit organizations and local enterprises who are trying to find solutions. They haven’t found “the secret sauce” yet, but here are some of the lessons they learned this year:

(For the best viewing experience, click through below and scroll down for the next slide).


American Graduate is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities across America find solutions to the dropout crisis.