US schools fight to keep students amid fear of dropout surge
U.S. educators are doing everything they can to track down high school students who stopped showing up to classes and to help them get the credits needed to graduate, amid an anticipated surge in the country’s dropout rate during the coronavirus pandemic.
There isn’t data available yet on how the pandemic has affected the nation’s overall dropout rate — 2019 is the last year for which it is available — and many school officials say it’s too early to know how many students who stopped logging on for distance learning don’t plan to return. But soaring numbers of students who are failing classes or are chronically absent have experts fearing the worst, and schools have been busy tracking down wayward seniors through social media, knocking on their doors, assigning staff to help them make up for lost time and, in some cases, even relaxing graduation requirements.
“When students drop out, they typically look for an out, an opportunity to leave. And this has provided that, unfortunately,” Sandy Addis, chairman of the National Dropout Prevention Center, said recently, referring to the pandemic. His group believes the dropout rate has spiked this year and will remain high for years.
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