High School Graduation Rates Term Paper

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schools experience higher graduation rates amongst minorities than other high schools. The key terms that will be used throughout the discussion include;

High school dropout- those individuals enrolled in high school in October but a year later were not enrolled in school and had not completed high school. (Event Dropout Rates by Family Income, 1972-2001, 2004)

High school graduation rate- the percentage of students that graduate high school each year

At risk schools/communities- those schools and communities that are characterized by high unemployment rates, low income and a prevalence of crime

Minorities- those groups that do not make up the majority of the population

For the purposes of this discussion, we will only focus on Hispanic and African-American students because these are the two largest minority groups in the country. In addition, this study will not contain statistical date concerning high school dropouts who later earned GED's. The discussion will present a problem statement, literature review, conceptual framework, hypothesis, methodology and appendix containing a survey to be used in the study.

This topic is distinct in that it will seek to investigate the factors that contribute to high minority graduation rates in certain states. In addition, it will attempt to apply these factors to schools that have low minority graduation rates. Now that we have a better understanding of the topic at hand, let us discuss the problem that the study presents.

II. Statement of the Problem

The problem presented through this research is low high school graduation rates amongst minorities and how finding a solution to this problem will ultimately result in higher graduation rates and lower poverty rates. Low high school graduation rates can lead to a myriad of problems for our society. The primary problems created by low graduation rates are unemployment and poverty; a high school graduate earns more than someone who does not have a high school diploma. In addition, graduation rates are an indication of the efficacy of the public school system.

In an ideal situation, high school graduation rates would be high and there would be no variation in graduation rates between the rich and poor or between Whites and Minorities. Through this research, we hope to contribute new knowledge to the literature by identifying school systems in the U.S. with high minority graduation rates and school systems in the U.S. with low minority graduation rates. Compare and contrast the data and make recommendations for improving minority graduation rates based on what worked in the school systems and based on the reasons some systems gave for low graduation rates.

III. Review of the Literature

This literature contains statistical information and the results of various studies that have been conducted concerning high school graduation rates. The literature will explore the differences between the graduation rates of White students and Minority Students. In addition, we will review which states have the highest and the lowest minority graduation rates. We will also review literature concerning why minority graduation rates are higher in some states and lower in others.

High School Graduation Rates (Statistical Data)

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the high school dropouts are defined as those individuals enrolled in high school in October but a year later were not enrolled in school and had not completed high school. (Event Dropout Rates by Family Income, 1972-2001, 2004) The NCES explains that not completing high means that neither a high school diploma nor a GED had been earned. (Event Dropout Rates by Family Income, 1972-2001, 2004)

The report entitled "Student Effort and Educational Progress 2000-2004 explains that there are a number of reasons why students decide to dropout of high school. The reasons include income, family mobility, and academic performance. The NCES reports that low-income students are 6 times more likely to dropout of school than their peers. (Event Dropout Rates by Family Income, 1972-2001, 2004)

In addition, the report found that since 1972 the dropout rate for Whites and Black have decreased while dropout rates for Hispanics have increased and remain higher than other ethnic groups. (Event Dropout Rates by Family Income, 1972-2001, 2004)

According to the Manhattan Institute for Public Research, the state with the highest graduation rate for Black students is West Virginia at 71% and the state with the lowest percent of Black graduates is Wisconsin with only 41%. (Table 3: Ranking of African-American Graduation Rates by State 2002) The state with the highest percentage of Latino graduates is Montana at 82% and the state with the lowest graduation rate for Latinos is Georgia at only 32%. (Table 4: Ranking of Latino Graduation Rates by State, 2002) The Manhattan Institute for Public Research also has statistics concerning graduation rates according to district.

The institute reports that the Boston School District has the highest graduation rates for Blacks at 82%.(Table 8: Ranking of African-American Graduation Rates by District, 2002) In addition to Boston, other districts that have high graduation rates amongst Blacks are; Fairfax County (VA) 77%, Prince George County (VA) 76%, Montgomery County (MD) 75%, Baltimore County (MD) 67%, and Albuquerque (NM) 66%. (Table 8: Ranking of African-American Graduation Rates by District, 2002) Districts with the lowest graduation rates included; Cleveland (29%), Milwaukee (34%), Memphis (39%), Gwinnet County (40%) and Pinellas County (41%).

The institute reports that the district with highest graduation rate for Latinos is Montgomery County at 73%. (Table 9: Ranking of Latino Graduation Rates by District, 2002) Other districts with high graduation rates for Latinos include; Prince Georges County (70%), Albuquerque Public Schools (70%), Boston School District (68%) and El Paso Independent School District (67%.(Table 9: Ranking of Latino Graduation Rates by District, 2002)

The district with the lowest Latino graduation rate is the Cleveland city school District with 26%. (Table 9: Ranking of Latino Graduation Rates by District, 2002)

Other districts that have low graduation rates include Dekalb County School District (29%), Gwinnett County School District (33%), Cobb County School District (34%) and Clark County School District (34%). (Table 9: Ranking of Latino Graduation Rates by District, 2002)

As you can gather form these statistics, both Black and Latino students tend the have high graduation rates in certain districts such as, Boston Public Schools, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County. Likewise, these minority groups have low graduation rates in districts such as Cleveland city schools and Gwinnet County. The discrepancies in minority graduation rates have been recognized and are alarming to educators. Several studies have attempted to understand why this phenomenon is occurring. The next section of this literature review will discuss the results of these studies.

Studies investigating minority graduation rates

An article entitled "High School Graduation Rates in the United States: Implications for the Counseling Profession" explains the results of a nationwide study on high school Graduation rates. The research found disparities between White and minority graduation rates and noted that many of the states with high White student graduation rates (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa) had some of the lowest minority student graduation rates. He stated, "Interestingly all four of these states are predominantly rural, white states with concentrated, smaller minority and urban populations. This may reveal that the problem of low graduation rates is really an urban problem" (Powell 2003)

The study also suggests systemic and programmatic interventions to increase graduation rates. Powell (2003) explains that Systemic interventions are capable of decreasing dropout rates because they improve the environmental factors in schools, families, and communities that contribute to the problem. The author explains that interventions such as the Coalition Campus Schools Project (CCSP), have been shown to improve academic performance and reduce dropout rates. The author asserts that the Coalition Campus School Project aided in the formation of 11 new high schools from 2 of the high schools with the lowest performance and highest dropout rates in New York City. (Powell 2003) Some of the practices that allowed them to increase graduation rates were the small class sizes, small school size, definitive expectations, staff commitment to the ideals and values of the school, and low student to teacher ratio. (Powell 2003)

The article explains that because of the differences between White and Minority graduation rates the intervention programs should be, designed and implemented from a multicultural perspective. There are culturally specific models of dropout prevention programs that offer promise of success. One such program is Achievement for Latinos through Academic Success (ALAS) in Los Angeles (Larson & Rumberger, 1999). ALAS differed from traditional dropout prevention efforts because it focused on at-risk students in middle school, the period during which more than half of Latino boys drop out of school. ALAS focused not only on the individual adolescent, but also on the family, school, and community with strategies to increase the effectiveness of individuals within each context as well as to improve collaboration between them (Rumberger, 2001). ALAS had a significant impact while students were receiving the intervention; however, the effects were not sustained after the program ended, which suggests that school dropout prevention efforts need to be ongoing." (Powell…[continue]

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