Washington DC’s Dropout Crisis
The Dropout Crisis
College & Career Connections works in Wards 7 and 8 of Washington DC, communities where high school graduation, college attendance, and college completion rates are the lowest in the city. DC ranks fifth in the nation among states with the highest drop out rates. Only 4 out of 10 youth who enter 9th grade in Wards 7 and 8 will graduate, and the majority of students who drop out will do so before the 10th grade. Currently, of those who graduate, just 1 out of 20 will obtain a college degree within 5 years.
Disengagement Begins Early
In DC, disengagement from school among those who drop out begins early. Over half of youth who drop out do so during the 9th grade, and 60% of 8th graders have vanished from the system by the beginning of 10th grade, suggesting that many students in DC’s poorest communities have dropped out before they ever reach high school.
This period coincides with the transition from adolescence to young adulthood: when youth struggle to formulate their identities, face pressure from peers to conform, and meet heightened academic demands in less structured and supportive educational environments.
Consequences of Dropping Out
The consequences of dropping out are severe: compared to their peers who graduate high school, young people who drop out are more likely to be unemployed, live in poverty, and depend on public assistance.
In this unforgiving labor market, the picture for those who don’t finish high school is especially frightening. High school drop outs are ineligible for 90% of new jobs, and when they do work, they earn just 40 cents to every dollar earned by college graduates.
Additionally, youth who drop out are more likely to be in prison, on death row, unhealthy, absent from the civic life of their communities, and parents of children who are poor.