Yesterday, Penn Foster, in collaboration with America's Promise, hosted a virtual discussion: Don't Call them Dropouts: A Conversation About "Non-Completes" and What it Takes to Raise Graduation Rates. We were proud to be joined by moderator, Jon Zaff, Executive Director of Center for Promise and panelists Ray McNulty, Chairman of Penn Foster High School Board; Chairman of National Dropout Prevention Center Network, Elayne Bennett, President & Founder, Best Friends Foundation, and Beth Reynolds, National Dropout Prevention Center Network . Key points discussed include the power of adversity, resiliency and connection, how the education system can change and adapt to the needs and challenges of these students, and the barriers students are facing to re-enter school after taking time off.
Currently, graduation rates hover around 80%, but there are still significant disparities in graduation rates by race and income. There are still 18 states where the graduation rate for low-income students is under 70%. It will take a village to increase graduation rates to an ambitious, but achievable 90% graduation rate, but the first step is to understand the problem, and begin to change the language we use to describe these disadvantaged students. The term "dropout" implies that there is something wrong with the student, when really, the system isn't designed to suit the learning styles, and life challenges of all students.