School Dropouts:

The Extent and Nature of the Problem

HRD-86-106BR: Published: Jun 23, 1986. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided an overview of national survey information on: (1) the number of school dropouts; (2) factors relating to youth dropping out of school; (3) factors associated with youth returning to school; (4) labor market consequences of dropping out; and (5) dropout assistance programs.

GAO noted that: (1) high school graduation rates have increased significantly during the last 50 years; (2) high school students' achievement levels declined during the late 1960's and 1970's; (3) the gap in the employment situation between black and white youth has widened since the 1950's; and (4) chronic joblessness is concentrated among poor and minority dropouts. GAO found that: (1) the dropout rate for youth between the ages of 16 and 24 has remained at about 14 percent for the last decade; (2) the dropout rate for Hispanics, blacks, and economically and educationally disadvantaged young people is much higher; (3) youth who are 2 or more years behind grade level, pregnant, or from a home where the father did not graduate tend to drop out of school; (4) about 50 percent of the dropouts return to school or enroll in educational programs within the first few years after dropping out; (5) dropouts, especially blacks, have fewer job opportunities; and (6) there is little information about effective measures to prevent youth from dropping out of school or to encourage their return to school due to a lack of research and evaluation material on employment and training programs.

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