By the numbers: High school dropouts
June 20th, 2012
10:35 AM ET

By the numbers: High school dropouts

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) The numbers, the costs, the effects are astounding.

According to the College Board, 857 students drop out of high school every hour of every school day.

But that’s only one statistic.  Here are some other numbers that drive home the impact of the high school dropout problem in the U.S.

Dropout rates

About 1 in 4 high school students does not graduate from high school with his or her class.

Nearly 4 in 10 minority students do not graduate with their class.


Among adults over 25 without a high school diploma in 2011: 14.1% unemployment rate

With a high school diploma: 9.4% unemployment rate


Median earnings for full time workers age 25 and older who did not have a high school diploma in 2008: $24,300

With a high school diploma: $33, 800

Economic Impact

What if half of the 1.3 million dropouts from  the Class of 2010 had graduated from high school?

They could have generated:

$5.3 billion in increased earnings

$4.2 billion in increased spending

$6.7 billion in increased Gross National Product (GDP)

$499 million in increased state tax revenue

Taxes and government spending

Turning just one student from dropout to graduate =  more than $200,000 in higher tax revenues and lower government expenditures over his or her lifetime.

Graduating half of one class of dropouts =  taxpayer savings of $45 billion in that year.

Poverty and crime

Dropouts make up nearly half the heads of households on welfare.

High school dropouts commit about 75 percent of crimes in the U.S.

Why they drop out

Nearly half of students who drop out do it because they say their classes “aren’t interesting.”

43% say they quit because they had too many absences and felt they couldn’t catch up.

38% say they had “too much freedom and not enough rules.”

35% quit because they were failing.

How to fix the problem?

81% of students who dropped out said they would like to see schools offer “real world” learning opportunities.

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Filed under: High school • Issues • Policy • Practice
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    But seriously, you know what's wrong with kids these days? It is now illegal to give them a good, solid butt wooping when the step out of line. Parents are so affraid the neighbors will call child protective services if they hear a kid getting some well-deserved discipline, they just let them do whatever the heck they want.

    June 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  2. Jeff

    Besides, someone has to wash our dishes and pick up our trash. These are necessary occupations.

    June 21, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  3. Jeff

    I wonder what the "minority" statistic is supposed to mean? There were minority kids in my high school and they all graduated. Why does the media insist upon shoving minotiry status down our collective throats? This crap gets really old. Find something else to harp on. The race card is getting tired.

    June 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  4. But, seriously

    How's this for an opinion? Business is relatively simple. Economics isn't::)

    June 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  5. But, seriously

    Oh, sorry, that was supposed to be Lucasfilms (C)

    June 21, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  6. Mike Chevalier

    I didn't finish high school, class of 78, and did just fine. I quickly learned that most employers ask if you graduated but they don't check. My employer of many years said that they don't pay as much to those who haven't graduated. I never told them or any other employer. I even went to a tech school and they didn't even check! Hard work and showing up on time every day matters more than a diploma. I've had a mortgage and credit cards and the issue has never come up! I bought my second house 9 years ago for cash, no mortgage. I have a business. You don't have to be a HS grad to be successful.

    June 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  7. sensrbtch

    ifin u wana drop out of schul, U WIL GO IMEDIATELY INTO DA ARMY!! wer u wil stay fur 4 years. by den u wil lern english,da 3[r's], an how to be a killer. ifin u giot out u wil go to collage an become mor den u can be!! den tels alls u r dum budz. wat it is?! dis it wat we nedsa to do too h.s.dropouts.

    June 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • LonelyWorld

      Save Us All! I practically could not understand the "non-English" that sensrbtch" wrote about. Seriously??? There is NO WAY people talk English this bad...........I'm flabbergasted!

      June 20, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
      • But, seriously

        The language sounds like that spoken by the Star Wars (C) character Jar Jar Binks (C) from the Planet Naboo(C) or Nauvoo (C) (C) made famous by George Lucas and Lucafilms (C). The movie was named Star Wars, "The Phantom Menace" Episode I (C) that came out in the late 1990's and dealt with changing times from ...a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away...(C) I apologize for referring this information to the public, so, if you have concerns, please feel free to write me and not sue me at note that I have included original creative artistic license copyright attachments)!

        June 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
      • twang

        I thought he sounded like an extremly intelligent black

        June 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  8. sprolesman

    I've be saying it for years! 11th and 12th grades classes need ***mandatory*** classes on money, investing, economy, loans, credit cards, ex…
    It’s simple ask your 11th or 12th grade kid about any of these things and see what the answers are. Takes more than a high school job to “stay alive” after high school

    June 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Dustin

      I agree with this 100%. i am 25 and make 42k/yr. i still do not fully understand 401k, IRAs, stock market ect. i know they are good to have to save money and retire but how do they work? how does investing work? In my 12th grade honors economics class we played monopoly. seriously.

      June 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm |