Russell Rumberger, a professor in the Department of Education at UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School, has published the book Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can Be Done About It (Harvard University Press). Rumberger founded and directs the influential California Drop Out Research Project (CDRP). The CDRP was established in December 2006 to synthesize existing research and undertake new research to inform policymakers, educators, and the general public about the nature of the dropout crisis in California and to help the state develop a meaningful policy agenda to address the problem.
The vast majority of kids in the developed world finish high school – but not in the United States. More than a million kids drop out every year, around 7,000 a day, and the numbers are rising. Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can Be Done About It offers acomprehensive overview by one of the country’s leading experts, and provides answers to fundamental questions: Whodrops out, and why? What happens to them when they do? How can we prevent at-risk kids from short-circuiting theirfutures?
Students start disengaging long before they get to high school, and the consequences are severe – not just for individuals but for the larger society and economy. Dropouts never catch up with high school graduates on any measure. They are less likely to find work at all, and more likely to live in poverty, commit crimes, and suffer health problems. Even life expectancy for dropouts is shorter by seven years than for those who earn a diploma.
Rumberger advocates targeting the most vulnerable students as far back as the early elementary grades. And he levels sharp criticism at the conventional definition of success as readiness for college. He argues that high schools must offer all students what they need to succeed in the workplace and independent adult life. A more flexible and practical definition of achievement – one in which a high school education does not simply qualify you for more school – can make school make sense to young people. And maybe keep them there.
“Russell Rumberger’s Dropping Out is the most thorough and timely analysis now available of the complex causes and terrible consequences of dropping out of high school,” asserts Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education. “Rumberger provides teachers, administrators, and policymakers with essential knowledge to address a continuing crisis. Dropping Out demonstrates again the necessity of education in an information age economy, and shows how increasing high school graduation rates will be essential for local, state, and national economic strength.”
Russell Rumberger is Professor of Education at UC Santa Barbara, and Vice Provost for Education Partnerships at the University of California Office of the President.
[Russell Rumberger is available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789]
– end –