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Make High School Graduation a National Priority

NEA supports making high school graduation a national priority by investing $10 billion over the next 10 years to support dropout prevention programs, starting with $1 billion appropriation in FY08.

  • According to estimates, about 30 percent of high school students drop out before graduation, meaning about one million students fail to graduate from high school every year.
  • Only five in 10 Black and Hispanic students graduate on time with a standard diploma, and less than one-half of American Indian and Alaska Native students complete high school.
  • Studies show that each class of high school dropouts costs the nation more than $200 billion in lost wages and tax revenues, as well as spending for social support programs.
  • High school dropouts have an earnings disadvantage that tends to remain with them throughout their lives. Without the required education to obtain a good-paying job, high school dropouts often face a bleak future.
  • Approximately 47 percent of high school dropouts are employed, compared to 64 percent of high school graduates not in college.
  • The majority of inmates at state and federal prisons failed to complete high school.
  • A 2006 study by Civic Enterprises shared dropouts' insights on why they left school before graduation. They cited a number of factors that would have kept them in school: enhancing the connection between school and work; providing real-world learning experiences; making school more relevant and engaging; and providing more help to struggling students.