1/27/2012: things are *really* going to hell. From Susan Palmer in the RG:
The Springfield district also had a slight increase in the four-year graduation rate, up a point to 62 percent, even as one of its schools, Springfield High, saw its rate drop by almost 6 points. … The Bethel School District in west Eugene saw its overall graduation rate decline this year, to 57 percent from 62 percent.
And from an op-ed in the NYT:
Only 7 of 10 ninth graders today will get high school diplomas. A decade after the No Child Left Behind law mandated efforts to reduce the racial gap, about 80 percent of white and Asian students graduate from high school, compared with only 55 percent of blacks and Hispanics. …
If we could reduce the current number of dropouts by just half, we would yield almost 700,000 new graduates a year, and it would more than pay for itself. Studies show that the typical high school graduate will obtain higher employment and earnings — an astonishing 50 percent to 100 percent increase in lifetime income — and will be less likely to draw on public money for health care and welfare and less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system. Further, because of the increased income, the typical graduate will contribute more in tax revenues over his lifetime than if he’d dropped out.
When the costs of investment to produce a new graduate are taken into account, there is a return of $1.45 to $3.55 for every dollar of investment, depending upon the educational intervention strategy. Under this estimate, each new graduate confers a net benefit to taxpayers of about $127,000 over the graduate’s lifetime.
As a self-interested professor, I’m all for more public investment in higher education. But the highest social return may well come from much earlier investments. And of course these students are not going to enroll at UO if they don’t graduate from HS. Here’s info on SAIL, a program run by volunteer UO professors, aimed at addressing this issue.