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  • Dropout Reduction: Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery


    The following links provide some basic information to describe the high school dropout problem in Massachusetts and nationally.

    Consequences of Dropping Out

    The consequences of not graduating from high school are clearly stated in Northeastern University Center for Labor Market Studies' 2007 report, State and Local Fiscal Consequences of High School Dropout Problems in Massachusetts. Adults in Massachusetts that leave high school prior to earning a high school diploma are employed less often and earn far less than their peers that graduate from high school. For example, high school dropouts can expect to earn about $500,000 less over the course of their lifetime than high school graduates.

    Dropping out of school has serious consequences for students, their families. Students who decided to drop out of school face social stigma, fewer job opportunities, lower salaries, and higher probability of involvement with the criminal justice system.

    National Statistics Reflecting the Impact

    • Dropping out of school impacts student's self esteem and psychological well-being, faced with the reality that they lack skills and knowledge to fulfill their desires.
    • Earnings for young men and women who quite school have steadily declined over the past three decades. In 1971 male dropouts earned an estimated $37,087, which decreased by 35% to $23,902 in 2002.
    • In 2001, 45% of adult high school dropouts were unemployed compared to 26% of high school graduates and 13% of graduates from a four-year college.
    • Dropouts are substantially more likely to rely on public welfare and health services.
    • Dropouts are 3.5 times more likely than high school graduates to be incarcerated during their lifetime.
    • Ninety % of the 11,000 youth in detention facilities have no more than a 9th grade education.
    • Dropouts cost the U.S. more than $260 billion in lost wages, tax revenue, and productivity over their life times.


    Barton, P.E. (2005). One-third of a nation: Risking dropout rates & declining opportunities. Princeton, NJ: Policy Information Center, Educational Testing Service, p. 5.

    Sum, Andrew et al. (2002). Left behind in the labor market: labor market problems of the Nation's out-of-school, young adult populations. Chicago, IL: Alternative Schools Network.

    Adair, V.C. (2001). Poverty and the (broken) promise of education. Harvard Educational Review, 71(2), pp. 217-239.

    Last Updated: July 21, 2009

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    Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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