‘Dropout factories’ is a term for schools whose graduation rate falls below 60%. The number of these schools has increased in 35 states over a 10 year period according to a report by Civic Enterprises, Everyone Graduates Center, America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education. Ohio is among these states.
The annual report is being seen as a call to action for education advocates and groups to start working together in efforts to improve rates. High dropout rates not only stress welfare budgets but lead to a dearth of national talent in key sectors.
“The zip code into which you’re born should not determine where you end up in life,” said John Bridgeland, a Cincinnati native and one of the report authors. If you have a community that has a dropout factory school and that’s your only choice in life that’s not access to the American Dream. It’s a moral issue, a societal issue and an economic issue.”
The stated goal of the report’s authors is to increase high school graduation rate to 90% by 2020. Only on state achieved this rate in 2010 – Wisconsin. Bridgeland noted that it was encouraging that despite the increase in ‘dropout factories’ Ohio’s overall graduation rate had actually increased over the period, which means that some communities increased graduation rates enough to more than offset failures in other parts of the state. However this also highlights the zip code lottery that is being created by widening differences in standards and results.
States are in the process of changing the way their graduation rates are calculated to better reflect the four-year, or on-time graduation rate. In Ohio the change will lead to lower “official” graduation rates as reported by the Ohio Department of Education. Grad Nation already uses on-time graduation rates in its report.
Ohio state’s graduation rate is now up to 79.6% with a nationwide rate of 75%. The overall number of dropout factories is falling nationwide however so the peculiar situation in Ohio should be looked into.