Report says dropouts come with a high price tag

If the high school dropouts from New Hampshire’s class of 2007 had instead earned diplomas along with their classmates, the state’s economy could have benefited from an additional $1.1 billion in wages over these students’ lifetimes, according to a report prepared by the Alliance for Excellent Education.

According to the report, “The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools,” the average annual income for a high school dropout in 2005 was almost $10,000 less than that earned by a high school graduate. Graduating all students, therefore, increases overall earnings potential, which, in turn, benefits each state and the nation with increased purchasing power and higher tax receipts, the report says.

On the flip side, the report argues that dropouts drain the state and nation’s economy by lowering tax revenues and increasing the cost of social programs. High school graduates are healthier, live longer and are less likely to be teen parents, commit crimes or rely on government-provided health care, according to the report.

“Each class of high school dropouts damages the economy,” says Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “In its current form, the No Child Left Behind Act does little to address the crisis in America’s high schools, and Congress must take action to support states and districts that put reforms into place that will allow all students, at all levels, to receive the assistance they need to be successful in school and graduate. The economic future and security of the nation depends on it.”

“The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools” is available at