According to the April 2002 report, “High School Graduation Rates in the United States,” the U.S. high school graduation rate for the class of 1998 was 71%. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported a national high school completion rate of 86% (graduations plus GED completions) for the class of 1998. Current Population Survey (1995) data indicate that students who have been retained (held back a grade) are at higher risk of school dropout:–24.1 percent of retained youths versus 10.1 percent of those students who were never held back.
Misdirected (but well intentioned) attempts by parents and guardians to prevent their children from being failed both recognize that they don’t want their children to be dropouts (or lose their “sense of self worth”) and are symptomatic of a multi-generational failure of U.S. precollegiate public education (since these same parents and guardians probably undervalued the potential advantages of parental involvement in the educational process early on). The No Child Left Behind Act clearly isn’t an answer, either. An approach that incorporates progressive education (in the sense of Dewey) is probably closer to an answer to meaningful educational reform.