October is National Dropout Prevention Month, which calls our attention on increasing awareness of the long-term effects on not only the students, but also the economy and society when students drop out of school. It offers a reminder to us to become better informed about how to prevent students from dropping out of school so that every child has the opportunity for a brighter future that a high school diploma helps ensure.

In Kentucky, the dropout rates were reduced from 2.4% in 2012-13 down to 1.9% in 2016-17 (2017-18 data is not yet available). While progress in reducing school dropout rates has been made, the need for awareness still exists. The Kentucky Department of Education’s Persistence to Graduation page is full of resources and supports available to schools on how they can continue to work toward having no student dropouts, including an Early Warning System tool.

A student’s decision to drop out of school wasn’t made due to a single event or factor.  More than likely, it was the result of a chain of experiences and processes that began much earlier in their educational history. And, once that decision is made, the young person will suffer negative consequences throughout their life. The Alliance for Excellent Education reported that, on average compared to graduates, non-graduates:

  • earn $8,000 less per year than high school graduates;
  • rely more heavily on public health services;
  • are more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system;
  • are more likely to rely on various sources of public assistance and welfare;
  • often experience quality-of-life challenges as a result of lower income levels and higher rates of public dependence;
  • and are less likely to vote, have poorer health, and have shorter life expectancies.

The National Dropout Prevention Center offers a wealth of effective strategies from foundational, system-wide strategies to early intervention strategies to resources on managing and improving instruction. Schools and communities that understand the life-long impact for students who drop out of school and work together to support at-risk students early-on can help decrease the likelihood that students will drop out of school and build brighter futures for Kentucky students.