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PA Partnerships for Children Report Details Economic Implications of Dropping out of School and Outlines Strategies to Re-engage Dropouts

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) today released a new report that shows that young people who drop out of high school are twice as likely to live in poverty as youth who have received a high school diploma, and three times as likely as youth who have attended some college or earned an associate's degree.

Dropping Back In: Re-engaging Out-of-School Youth - which also shows that twice as many high school dropouts are unemployed as their diploma-holding peers - recommends state and local policy strategies and initiatives to re-connect high school dropouts with their education. The report details income, unemployment and poverty rates based on educational attainment from data available through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and the 2007 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census.

Earnings and access to employment are directly linked to the amount of education a person possesses. In Pennsylvania, young people who drop out of school can expect their annual earnings to be less than half those of a college graduate with a bachelor's degree (roughly $19,000 vs. $45,000). Many students don't consider the long-term repercussions of dropping out such as increased unemployment, less earning potential, poverty, and reliance on public assistance.

"In today's high-tech world, securing a high school diploma is a must but far too many Pennsylvania children fail to graduate," said Joan L. Benso, president and CEO of PA Partnerships for Children, a statewide children's advocacy organization. "It is imperative that we provide the necessary supports to not only keep kids in school and prevent them from dropping out in the first place, but to find a way to re-engage them in their education once they have dropped out."

Helping youth successfully transition to adulthood requires a solid dropout prevention strategy that aids students at risk of education failure and assures graduating students are prepared for postsecondary education and work. An effective strategy also reconnects high school dropouts with continued education and the workforce. According to the PPC report, options to reconnect high school dropouts to their education are comprehensive, youth-centered and flexible.

They also:

Provide low-literacy support to advance literacy skills for struggling students;Use real-world context, are relevant and provide connections to employers and occupations;Provide strong connections to postsecondary education/training;Include accelerated learning and credit recovery for students who are over-age and severely under credited;Have a variety of options including evening classes and online courses to address the particular needs of out-of-school youth;Provide small learning environments and include connections to caring adults; andProvide access to needed supports for special populations including pregnant and parenting teens or foster care youth.

"We must rethink the traditional way of securing a high school diploma and find alternatives that expand education options and create links among high school, postsecondary education and high-skill, higher-wage occupations," Benso said. "We can do this, but it will require clear state priorities on dropout prevention and re-engagement, as well as postsecondary access."

More information including unemployment, poverty and salary data by educational attainment is available by visiting or by contacting Kathy Geller Myers, Communications Director, at 717-236-5680.

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