Bringing The World Home To You

© 2023 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton 94.1 Lumberton 99.9 Southern Pines
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WUNC's American Graduate Project is part of a nationwide public media conversation about the dropout crisis. We'll explore the issue through news reports, call-in programs and a forum produced with UNC-TV. Also as a part of this project we've partnered with the Durham Nativity School and YO: Durham to found the WUNC Youth Radio Club. These reports are part of American Graduate-Let’s Make it Happen!- a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and these generous funders: Project Funders:GlaxoSmithKlineThe Goodnight Educational FoundationJoseph M. Bryan Foundation State FarmThe Grable FoundationFarrington FoundationMore education stories from WUNC

Duke Study: High School Dropouts Need More Help

An image of a mortar board crossed out.
Michael Kellen

Researchers at Duke University have new, concrete evidence that dropping out of high school leads to joblessness, hardship and incarceration. But the samestudyalso reveals ways to help dropouts have more positive outcomes.

Duke researchers analyzed a data set that followed almost 600 children from the time they entered kindergarten through age 27. What they found out about the link between dropping out of school and hardship is not necessarily surprising, said study author and Duke policy professor Jennifer Lansford.

"Individuals who had dropped out of high school were nearly four times more likely to be receiving government assistance, or twice as likely to have been fired, or more than three times more likely to have been arrested before the age of 18," Lansford said.

But the study also found that certain experiences exacerbated hardship for dropouts, like being rejected by other students in elementary school, or getting pregnant in high school. On the other hand, treatment for drug or mental health issues tended to mitigate negative outcomes for dropouts.

Lansford said the study reveals the value of giving young people who have left school access to mental health services.

"I think that these findings would suggest that it’s important not to just give up on them but to try to offer support services that might be able to alter the otherwise negative trajectories that result from dropping out of school," Lansford said.

In addition, Lansford said comprehensive sex education and access to birth control in high school, and reducing bullying in elementary school could not only improve outcomes for students who drop out, but even prevent them from leaving school in the first place.

North Carolina’s high school dropout rate has fallen significantly over the last decade, but ticked up slightly last year—the first time since 2006.

The study was published in the June edition of the Journal of Adolsecent Health. It was funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Jess is WUNC's Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting. Her reporting focuses on how decisions made at the North Carolina General Assembly affect the state's students, families, teachers and communities.
Related Stories
More Stories