The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts


By John M. Bridgeland, John J. DiIulio, Jr., Karen Burke Morison

Civic Enterprises

Tool/Sample March 2006

Civic Enterprises produced this report as part of an effort to better understand the lives and circumstances of students who drop out of high school. It emphasizes the students’ perspectives as an often overlooked resource that may help in developing strategies to address the dropout crisis.The report summarizes a study that used focus groups and interviews with ethnically and racially diverse 16- to 25-year-olds who dropped out of high schools in 25 rural, urban, and suburban locations throughout the country.

The report provides compelling statistics about the national dropout crisis, and these are given voice by students who share their reasons for dropping out and their regrets. Against this backdrop of data and anecdotes, the authors make suggestions about what might help students stay in school, such as better quality supports for struggling students and a school climate that fosters academics. The report includes policy recommendations for school, system, and state leaders, as well as powerful charts and graphs. The comments from dropouts provide a perspective that is often missing from the equation. Consequently, this report provides insight to leaders who wish to engage those students who are least engaged. The report is also a model for institutional researchers seeking to collect data from communities about the experiences of high school dropouts.

Bridgeland, J.M., DiIluio, J.J., & Morison, K.B. 2006. The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts. Washington, DC: Civic Enterprises, LLC.

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