Shawn’s friends are not alone in their exodus. Of the 315 Shelbyville students who showed up for the first day of high school four years ago, only 215 are expected to graduate.
In today’s data-happy era of accountability, testing and No Child Left Behind, here is the most astonishing statistic in the whole field of education: an increasing number of researchers are saying that nearly one out of three public high school students won’t graduate, not just in Shelbyville but around the nation.
For Latinos and African-Americans, the rate approaches an alarming 50 percent. Virtually no community, small or large, rural or urban, has escaped the problem.
There is a small but hardy band of researchers who insist the dropout rates don’t quite approach those levels. They point to their pet surveys that suggest a rate of only 15 percent to 20 percent.