Education plays a major role in the future economic success and well-being of an individual. Therefore, parents and educators are often concerned when students leave school. However, schools are also often worried about losing funding during periods of low enrollment, especially when a large number of students attend alternative schools or move out of the area.
Low Birth Rates and Population
Lower birth rates influence school enrollment. When the general area has fewer children in general, the schools have enrollment shortages that can lead to decreased funding and teacher layoffs. Population affects the enrollment rates. Areas that have people moving away will have lower school enrollments. Also, if no one is moving into the school district, lower birth rates in general can gradually decrease school enrollments. These problems are frequent in rural areas and exacerbate the already limited funding that these schools receive.
The number of businesses in a given area are positively correlated to school enrollment. Geographic areas with fewer businesses have decreased school enrollment. Unemployment rates do not significantly influence enrollment rates, according to studies conducted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.
Some reform policies have decreased school enrollments. For example, in Chicago, reforms designed to prepare students for high school have lead to decreased school enrollment in high school as fewer students pass through the promotion gate. Low achieving students were the most likely to not enroll in high school.
High School Transition
The transition into high school often causes students to drop out of school. Many students cannot handle the transition towards more autonomy. Some schools have sought to ease the transition by having extended elementary schools which go until 9th grade, with a greater emphasis on preparing the students for the high school environment.
Need for Employment
Some students drop out of school so that they can pursue employment. Some students are forced into financial situations in which they need to work to bring an income in that can support themselves and their family. Some families do not value education and prefer that their children enter the workforce.
Pregnancy sometimes leads to high school dropout. Pregnant teens often cannot handle the stress of simultaneous pregnancy and education. Other times, doctors predict that the teen will give birth around a time when the teen has crucial academic events such as exams that determine whether or not the teen passes.
Some students have poor grades or attendance. As a result, they do not feel that they can graduate and instead choose to drop out. Students cannot drop out of high school until they are 16. Therefore, reaching this age provides students with the opportunity to drop out of high school.
Some parents choose to send their children to private schools. Other parents choose to home school their children. These decisions are often made because the parents are not satisfied with the academic curriculum provided by the public schools, so they decrease the public school enrollment rates by pulling their children out.
- Rural Pennsylvania -- A Legislative Agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly: Trends in Rural School Enrollment: A 20-Year Perspective
- University of Chicago: Declining High School Enrollment: An Exploration of Causes; Elaine M. Allensworth and Shazia Rafiullah; 2002
- Texas Education Agency: Secondary Public Schools Completion Rate and Dropout
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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