Samples High School Problem Solving Essay: High School Dropouts

Problem Solving Essay: High School Dropouts

1130 words 4 page(s)

In today’s world of information technology and a seemingly more aware population, it may be believed that the traditional problem of the high school dropout is no longer particularly an issue. Training, rather than education, is often stressed by the media. Then, the high costs of pursuing a college education, very much perceived as a reason for completing high school well, may well be seen as lessening the value of the high school degree. Nonetheless, and critically, the importance of dropouts goes far beyond immediate issues of employment or even the relative advantages of furthering education. High school dropout rates, even as the numbers decrease, indicate a basic and serious social issue, in that adolescents who choose to leave school at these times are making a choice revealing a lack of self-esteem, and one inevitably weakening all opportunities in life. In plain terms, no more important imperative exists in education than that of promoting for high school students the sense that these years are crucial in enabling any choices for their futures. Dropout rates will fade only when the schools then have a deeper understanding of why these students are turning their backs on the schools.

In pragmatic terms, dropout rates have decreased in recent years. Between 1990 and 2011, there is a five percent reduction, with seven percent of students dropping out today. Moreover, the decrease is seen along all racial lines, with reductions for white, black, and Hispanic students virtually the same (NCES). This is certainly encouraging, but it nonetheless remains an unacceptable reality, especially in a nation and an era in which public education is more available than ever before. There is no reasonable high school dropout rate because any such population translates to young people who have essentially given up on any hope of advancing themselves in significant ways. The problem is severe because education, and particularly at this age, goes to more than the gaining of a degree, the plan to enter college, or the desire to secure a good job; it goes to ideas of self as unworthy of any such attainment.

Need A Unique Essay on "Problem Solving Essay: High School Dropouts"? Use Promo "custom20" And Get 20% Off!

Order Now

A great deal of research reveals specific reasons why students drop out, at least in terms of the student rationales themselves. Nearly half of 10th grade students dropping out asserted that their main reason was having missed too many school days, rendering graduation unlikely if they remained. Lesser percentages claim that they feel obtaining a GED later on in life will be easier, that their grades are too low, and that they simply do not enjoy school (Lamb 13). What is troubling about these responses, apart from the basic reality of the quitting of school, is that they do not reveal the important, underlying causes of the reasons. If low grades are offered as a reason, there must be a further reason behind the poor achievement; if the GED is seen as an equal alternative, it is likely that the student is concerned only with earning power; if school is disliked, it is probable that the antipathy is due to factors apart from the study. It cannot be overstated that dropping out of high school is a symptom of other issues, rather than merely a choice dictated by circumstances.

There has been a focus on the issue for some years, yet it appears to be one misplaced. An effort intended to promote high school graduation rates, for example, yet one that appears to have had a negative impact, is the “high stakes” examination. In these exams, students in school are expected to demonstrate actual mastery of skill levels. Interestingly, the tests are becoming more widespread despite the impact; in 1996, 13 states required this testing, and by 2006 they were in place in 22 states. Analysis reveals that the exams have minimal effect on graduation rates; in fact, all that is noted is that dropout rates increase in urban, deprived schools and decrease in suburban ones where the exams are administered (Goldin, Katz 344). This then appears to be an assessment process that reinforces the student mentality or ambition already in place, be it to aspire or to give up.

Given that adolescents have issues which, if reflecting common problems, are nonetheless individual, no single solution to ending dropout rates is feasible. In plain terms, there are limitless reasons why young people will choose to give up on school, ranging from poor self-esteem or lack of ability to issues at home. One reality indicates a strategy, however. Despite various differences in rates based on race and economic factors, dropout rates are uniformly higher among students who admit to having no real educational or career aspirations (Lamb 14).

What this then points to is a need for high schools to address the student in a more individual way, rather than as one in a class in place to attain specific learning. This is not to suggest that schools take the virtually impossible course of devoting focus to each student. Instead, it calls for a broader perception from the teachers, and one generated by only brief discussion periods. It is crucial that teachers have some sense of how their students feel about the processes, if they are to identify those students with issues. As teachers take the minimal time necessary to gain these perspectives, they may then be able to isolate those students who are vulnerable. As other teachers then provide further input regarding these students, greater attention may be paid to them as individuals. The majority of students do not require this attention, but the minority does, and identifying that minority is critical if the school is to fulfill its obligations.

The most demanding and tragic fact regarding high school dropouts is not the education missed, but the core issues going to the student’s belief that the schooling is meaningless. Further testing is not the answer, for this is not a problem of ability; it is a problem of the student self and a lack of belief in the value of graduating. To that end, and in keeping with the high school’s obligation to truly teach, it is necessary that the schools encourage opportunities for the teachers to gain a better understanding of how their students perceive them. This is itself no solution to the dropout problem. It is, however, a means of connecting to the potential dropout, who is the only one who may provide the actual solution. Dropout rates will be properly addressed only when the teachers have a real understanding of why these students are turning their backs on the schools.

  • Goldin, C. D., & Katz, L. F. The Race between Education and Technology. Boston: Harvard University Press, 2009. Print.
  • Lamb, S. School Dropout and Completion: International Comparative Studies in Theory and Policy. New York: Springer, 2010. Print.
  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Dropout Rates. 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2103.