How to Stop African American Males Dropping Out of High School


Teenagers dropping out of high school especially the African American students before completion of have been a challenge for parents, educators and employers for many years. Although the numbers have decreased over the years, new policies need to be implemented in school curriculum that would help student stay in school. Minimum school qualification limits them to employment opportunities hence increase in crime rates.

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Statistics reveal high rates of high school dropouts among African-American students are compared to any other race. However, drop out data in most states cannot accurately account for these reports. No standardized calculation method is devised to support the evidence the educational analyst would rely on in drawing policies that would help retain students in schools. Research reports also produce contradicting reports on causes of school drop out. Based on various research reports we are going to look at, accurate statistical reports would not help reduce school drop out among African American high school students but implanting policies that would help them stay in school would.

In a study carried out in Washington, school dropouts among African American high school students are notorious very high. Statistics obtained from Editorial Projects in Education (EDE) reveal that nearly 1 in 3 high school students in the current year academic year of 2006 will not be able to graduate. The mostly affected students are those attending urban school districts and the poor students. Further statistics reveal a 21.7 percent drop in graduation rates in Detroit, Marylands Baltimore County by 38.5 percent and 82.5 percent in Virginia Fairfax County. Christopher Swanson of the EDE Research center points out the challenges the community faces when 30 percent of young high students of ninth to tenth grade fail to go through high school with diploma (Russel, 2006).

US Education Department of National Education Longitudinal Study showed improved high school attendance of African American male students. In 1992, 78 percent of African American high schools students received a diploma and the number increased to 83 percent by 1994. From the statistics we have looked at none of them give us a full picture of the existing dropout-rates. Researchers should come up with accurate reporting since education policy turns on statistics to base their analysis and place appropriate measures where needed to improve education in high schools. Jack Jennings of the Center on Educational Policy points in his argument points out that misleading data can raise doubts of the effectiveness of the schools therefore humiliating administrative efforts to reduce dropout rates while on the other hand, use of less dramatic data would not help solve the problem as well. Jack Jennings stresses that accurate numbers are needed in order to vogue some solutions (Russel, 2006).

Various organizations are coming up with plans to reduce the alarming disparities in school drop outs among African American males. An event sponsored by Presidents’ Round Table of African American CEOs in Philadelphia put participants to task to initiate corporeal plans to provide a solution to black male crisis. Charles Taylor Convener of the Round Table emphasized the researchers to stop talking about the crisis and the statistics and instead initiate a plan that would solve the problem. Reports from this research reveal that less than 50 percent of African-American males graduate from high school in Philadelphia and 80 percent of them contribute to the state prison population. Jones criticizes that the increase drop out of African American males in high schools contributes to unhealthy economy, ailing society and unsafe environment. Participants from Round Table’s African American Male Initiative summit were divided into six groups and asked to draw action plans that would address the problem. Members of the group were assigned duties to identify funding resources, identify methods that will enhance data collection and collaboration, provide ways that will influence public policy and launch market campaigns. The strength of this report is that it points out the effects of school drop outs and has implemented policies to help schools retain their students as well as dealing with challenges that face black males (Pluviose, 2008).

Flawed methodology contribute to false statistical reports availed by the state on high school drop outs therefore The Civil Project at Harvard University has implemented ways to help in reporting accurate reports that would help in drawing new policies that would minimize school drop out. The project also seeks that administration in district schools adhered to certain goals towards attaining reasonable graduation rate for all students. The weakness of this literature is that the provided project seems to work right at school levels, but is has not formulated house projects that would reduce school dropouts. Can you draw goals that would progress towards reasonable graduation rate for all students without researching on the problem causing their drop outs? (UCLA, 2005).

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According to research on factors relating to school drop outs among African American students, individual personality traits, conditions of schooling, economic context within the students and home environment. Adequate measures need to be put into account to help get to the grass root of school drop out among African American such as early interventions before the students join middle school and high school to prevent them from dropping out. The weakness of this report is that it has not identified the cause of dropping out either than following what other researchers have already examined on individual factors in social and economic environment as well as ethnicity. The benefits of this research is that is has worked well to identify institutional factors and poor school conditions that might have led to drop outs a strategy that would solve the root cause of school dropouts. On economical background, families with lower incomes are 6 times more likely to drop out of school than other families. What would the state do to ensure these students retain in schools? (South, Baumer, & Lutz, 2003, p. 30).

Students in social economically distressed neighborhood as well as adolescence delinquency behavior are less likely to complete their high school levels since they have this mentality that school in their neighborhood would not better their living standards or provide mobility into a better one. The strength of this research is that it has helped identify sociological factors that contribute to high school drop outs among African American male students but it has failed to provide a solution in helping keep the students in school (Debbie& Cook, 2004, p. 5).

Grade retention has great influence on student’s social economical adjustment, peer relations, self esteem and school engagement. These factors contribute to school withdrawal therefore hating the school all together. School retention actually does not seem to solve the problem it rather sends failure message to the student that would consequently impact on long term and short term self esteem engagement problems. Reports reveal that 27% of black males in Austin, Texas are more likely to drop out of school due to retention. The report goes on that 7 out 10 of all retained students are either African American or Hispanic, therefore contributing to higher risks of school drops. With this statistics, why wouldn’t school administration come up with new academic policies that would ensure academically challenged students remain in schools? (Jimmerson, Anderson et al 2003, p.55).

High school structures and constructive organization influence students in their decision of continuing with education or dropping out. Another quantitative research on 3,840 students in grades 10-12 in urban and suburban areas revealed unfound reports on social background and school behaviors to be contributing factors towards high school drop outs. With these conflicting reports it’s hard to determine what actually contributes to high rates of high school drop outs among African American Males (Lee & Buckard, 2003, p.354).

Problems and controversies

Statistical measure used in Russel (2006) to record drop out rates is inaccurate since comparisons across states and school districts is inappropriate because the formula concentrates by how much grade retention is in 9th grade and 10th grade than researching for the root cause of school dropouts. These statistical reports will make any school that retains students have a bad picture as they will be perceived to be the cause of school dropouts regardless of whether graduation rates are lower or not. Pluviose (2008) ranked Philadelphia among 10 largest cities in crime rates due to high school drop outs in the state. Due to the insecurities attributed by increase in crime rates in the region the Nutter proposed for a $4 million community college funding increase. This community initiative should have invested in high school funds instead of community college. The weakness of this report is that instead of dealing retaining African-American males in high school, its allocating funds for college instead of supporting the needy students in high school. Wayne Watson a public policy leader of the Round Table’s African Male Initiative is working to implement policy impacts on congress that would hold presidential candidates accountable for addressing the urban crisis of high school drop outs.

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Cooper and Jordan in their study have researched into challenges faced by African American males. In their research they examined the complexities of educational conditions attributed by social conditions encountered by this group in public schools that bring barriers of learning therefore hindering their educational progress. They identify cultural synchronization to be the most critical challenge in keeping them in school. Intentions of African-American staying in school stem from attitudes, subjective norms from their parents, teachers and peer groups and perceived behavioral control such as poor living conditions, prerequisite academic abilities and conflicting advice from peers and teachers. The two researchers would have formulated peer group counseling groups that would highlight benefits of schooling and suggested ways to provide a stable environment that would facilitate learning (Cooper & Jordan, 2003, p. 380).

Application in my school

Researchers in the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University revealed hidden reports on high school drop outs in California as earlier indicated by the state. The research uncovered high rates of school drop outs among African American and Latino students contrary to state reports. Gari Orfield Director of the Civil Right Project proposes that state should make schools accountable for graduating their students and help poor students whose carriers would be doomed by leaving school. By helping the students remain in school it should provide resources for facilitate learning process either than drawing statistics on the number of school dropouts. Solutions formulated at the conference in helping minimizing school drop out among African American high school students includes funding and implementing a system that will uniquely identify students. The strength of this literature is that Civil Rights Project at Harvard university system ahs formulated new methodology that would provide more accurate reports and provide greater accountability for ensuring improved graduation rates, formulate proven interventions designed to reduce school dropouts in California and form new coalitions that would endorse strategies to improve schools at districts and state levels (UCLA, 2005).

In my school I will ensure that students are well guided with parents as well as teachers on educating them on the necessity of solid education as it’s the key to their future employment opportunities rather than dwelling on unfound statistics on which state reports higher drop out levels than the other. Since we have already looked at the causes of high school drop out among African American students, this research leads me to my formulate strategies that will help retain ninth graders in school by breaking down the school into small units to actively engage then in school activities as well class work. Students who remain in detention will be grouped in clusters to avoid drop outs and teachers’ roles will be expanded to include mentor and guide to help them understand the necessity of education. The direction this research is taking me to a PASS is that I have well researched the causes of school drop out among African American high students, analyzed various statistics and formulated strategies that I will incorporate in my school activities to help keep the students in school. In my PASS in intend to improve perception of school, build ethnic identification and encourage extracurricular activities in high schools.

In conclusion, poor graduate rates must be improved to minimize chances of youth dropping out of school. Constructive projects must be implemented to engage the youths, earn diploma and become productive citizens. The school institutions should adapt to better response to the needs of learners such as concrete social, economical and emotional support that would help keep the African Americans in school. Positive relationship between teachers and students need to be encouraged in order to stimulate good learning environment. Students also need to be encouraged to participate in school activities which help them form school attachments and minimize drop outs.


Cooper, R. & Jordan, W.J. (2003). Cultural issues in comprehensive school reform. Urban Education, 38(4), 380-398.

Debbie, B., & Cook, E. E. (2008). High School Dropouts: Can We Reverse the Stagnation in School Graduation?. Issue Brief 1(2), p. 5.

Jimmerson, S. R., Anderson, G. E., Ferguson, P., & Whipple, A. D. (2003). Exploring the association between grade retention and drop out: A longitudinal study examining social-emotional, behavioral and achievement characteristics of retained students. The California school Psychology, 7, 51-62.

Lee, V. E. & Buckard, D. T. (2003). Dropping out of high school: The role of school organization and structure. American Educational Research Journal, 40(2), 355-393.

Pluviose, D. (2008). Remedying the Black male “crisis”: with high dropouts, unemployment and incarceration rates, more than 50 organizations convene to develop action to address a distributing trend. Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

Russel, G. C. (2006). US high school dropout rate: high, but how high?. Society and Culture.

South, S. J., Baumer, E.P., & Lutz, A. (2003). Interpreting community effects on youth educational attainment. Youths and Society, 35 (1), 3-36.

UCLA. (2005). New Research Exposes Hidden High School Drop Out Crisis; A cute Among California’s African American and Latino Students. Press Release.

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