Philadelphia High School Drop Outs


Overall, only 56 percent of district students graduate in four years, according to 2009 data. The rates for minority male students are worse: 45 percent for African American males and 43 percent for Latino males.

Philadelphia is not alone. The national graduation rate was 48 percent for African American males and 49 percent for Latino males, according to a recent report by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

Demonstrating the crippling costs of the crisis

Dropping out of high school has a lifelong, devastating impact on a person’s future.

Ability to become a productive, stable citizen.

  • Dropouts are more likely than are high school graduates to be unemployed, in poor health, living in poverty, on public assistance, and single parents of children who drop out of high school.
  • Dropouts were more than twice as likely as high school graduates to slip into poverty in a single year and three times more likely than college graduates to be unemployed in 2004.
  • Dropouts are more than eight times as likely to be in jail or in prison than are high school graduates.
  • Dropouts are four times less likely to volunteer than are college graduates and half as likely to vote or participate in community projects, and they represent only 3 percent of actively engaged citizens in the U.S. today.

Economic impact

  • The average annual income for a high school dropout in 2005 was $17,299, compared to $26,933 for a high school graduate, a difference of $9,634 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006). College graduates earn on average $1 million more over a lifetime than do high school dropouts. In other words, dropping out has the potential to be a million-dollar mistake.
  • If the students who dropped out of the Class o •f 2007 had graduated, the nation’s economy would have benefited from an additional $329 billion in income over these students’ lifetimes.
  • The government would reap $45 billion in extra tax revenues and lower costs for public health, crime, and welfare payments if the number of high school dropouts among 20-year olds in the U.S. today, who number more than 700,000 individuals, were cut in half.
  • If our dropout rate remains the same for the next 10 years, the result will be a loss to the nation of $3 trillion.


What in fact do dropouts do after they drop out of school? The answer for many is — not much.
  • Analysis of recent census data shows that close to one-third of 18- to 24-year olds who have dropped out of school are simply idle, neither in the labor force nor participating in educational programs.
  • The idleness rate climbs to more than 40 percent for high school dropouts from families with incomes below poverty level. This means they are not acquiring the skills needed to earn a livelihood, let alone support a family. Compare these rates with the low, 8 percent idleness rates for 18- to 24-year olds who completed high school.
  • While public perception may be that the dropout issue is a “boys’ crisis,” the reality is that 1 in 4 girls don’t graduate from high school. And the economic consequences of dropping out are far worse for female dropouts than their male counterparts

If we can reverse these trends, society will benefit across the board. Research shows that high school graduates live longer; are more likely to raise healthier, better educated children; and are less likely to commit crimes, be teen parents, or rely on government health care or other public assistance such as food stamps. Our nation will benefit from graduates’ increased purchasing power, see higher levels of productivity from our workforce, and collect more taxes.

They Don't Stand A Chance


  • In Philadelphia, the country's sixth largest school district, about one of every three students fails to graduate -- about the national average. CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports that of the 4 million students who enter high school every year, one million of them will drop out before graduation. That's 7,000 every school day -- one dropout every 26 seconds.


  • According to a report by the American Youth Policy Forum, 75 percent of the inmates housed at our state prisons are dropouts, and 59 percent of the federal prison population are dropouts.
  • Research shows that high school dropouts are three and a half times more likely than graduates to be arrested and eight times more likely to be incarcerated.