According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, about one in five high school students drops out before graduation. Although the percentage of dropouts has been declining over the past three decades, the number of students who forego getting a high school diploma is still too high. Communities In School of Jacksonville is dedicated to helping at-risk students stay in school and earn their diplomas.
The Brookings Institution says that poor students in areas of high income inequality are the most at-risk for dropping out of school. These students often believe that going to college is unrealistic; their family members often did not graduate from high school, and they don’t see the point of going to school when they could be working instead.
Their logic is flawed, of course: dropping out is costly for the student, and it is costly for society. People without a high school diploma earn more than $10,000 less than high school graduates. The unemployment rate of dropouts is 50 percent higher than average in the United States. Most startling of all, the incarceration rate of dropouts is 63 times higher than the incarceration rates of people who have a bachelor’s degree.
Despite these numbers, a significant number of students continue to fall through the cracks, leading them to give up on their schooling. The best kind of dropout prevention is one that involves schools, families, and afterschool programs to support at-risk children. Schools should provide engaging teachers who are able to spark interest in academics. Teachers must be able to identify students who are struggling and direct them to the resources they need. A supportive, engaged family can do wonders for students who lose their way in high school. And for those students who are struggling in academics, in their home life, socially, or in other areas of their lives, afterschool programs can provide the necessary support to help a student succeed.
A good afterschool program will enrich at-risk students’ lives through tutoring and mentoring. They provide a supportive community to students who might otherwise not have the guidance they need to get through high school. For students with families who are unable or unwilling to support their children’s academic potential, these programs can be a lifeline.
We all have an interest in dropout prevention. We owe it to students to set them up for success. We are looking for caring adults who are willing to mentor children so that they can reach their potential. If you want to know how you can make a difference in a child’s life here in your community, please visit the CIS Jacksonville site to see how you can help.