35 Percent of Students Drop Out (50 Percent of Black Males): Pittsburgh Steel State of Mind





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Published on Jan 21, 2010

35 percent of high school students -- including nearly half of all black male students -- drop out of Public Schools.

The Rand Corp. study said the drop-out rate was average for a large, urban district.

To arrive at their estimates, Rand tracked two classes of students from their entry into high school until the time they graduated or dropped out. Researchers traditionally have used less reliable means to calculate graduation and dropout rates. Rand tracked 6,100 students who entered ninth grade during the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 years.

Rand representatives use of student data to determine the dropout rate is cutting-edge research and more accurate than other methods of calculating the rate, such as dividing the number of students who received diplomas in the spring by the number who entered 12th grade the previous fall.

The state uses a calculation less accurate and puts Pittsburgh's graduation rate at 74 percent. That's compared with Rand's estimate of 64 percent.

The national drop-out rate is nearly 33 percent.

Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board has provided additional data, saying a survey of city dropouts showed the top reasons for quitting were stress, work responsibilities, other priorities, a lack of support in school and a feeling of hopelessness caused by poor attendance.

The survey also asked dropouts what could have kept them in school. Responses included college scholarships, other incentives and academic support.

A separate study of dropouts by the Workforce Investment Board showed that nearly 80 percent exhibited warning signs as early as sixth grade. The red flags included failed courses, poor attendance and out-of-school suspensions.

Increasing the number of minority teachers is also important because of "the role model factor."

American teachers are overwhelmingly white (87%) and female (77%), despite minority student populations of about 44%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Only about 2% of teachers nationwide are African-American men.

Black males need to see successful adults of color in front of them. If we can recruit linebackers, point guards and track stars, we can recruit third-grade teachers!

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