Nationwide, nearly 1.2 million teens – more than one third of all high school students – drop out of high school every year.
Until recently, this devastating reality remained one of our nation’s best-kept secrets. Reporting formulas that could be manipulated to boost graduation rates and mask the true dropout rate, combined with public reluctance to confront the structural economic and racial barriers contributing to educational inequities, have caused too many to ignore the urgency and the origin of the crisis.
Rarely do students “drop out” because they do not desire to finish. In fact, for many students who stop short of finishing, leaving high school is not really a choice at all. A growing body of research, informed by a decade’s worth of analysis of what has come to be known as the school-to-prison pipeline, explores and documents how many of our nation’s most vulnerable and struggling students do not chose to leave school, but are in effect pushed out.