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The nation's dropout rate remained steady last year, and has stayed virtually the same since the mid-1980's, a report released by the U.S. Department of Education concludes.

In its second annual report to the Congress, the Department found that, on average, 4.5 percent of the students in grades 10 to 12 dropped out of school each year between 1987 and 1989. In last year's report, covering school years 1985 to 1988, the figure was 4.4 percent. The Department is required under the Hawkins-Stafford Ele6mentary and Secondary School Improvement Amendments of 1988 to submit an annual report to the Congress on dropouts.

According to the report, some 4 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24, or 12.6 percent of this age group, were out of school and without a diploma in 1989, the same percentage as in 1985. About one-third of all Hispanics in this age group were dropouts, the report said, compared with 13.8 percent for blacks and 12.4 percent for whites.


This month, the Boys Clubs of America officially becomes the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The name change, announced by the club's national director, Thomas G. Garth, reflects the growing numbers of girls and young women who participate in the organization. Of the 605 local clubs nationwide, 552 provide services for girls, including pregnancy prevention for teenagers. Other club programs address drug abuse, careers, and gangs.

Established as the Federated Boys Clubs in 1906, the organization did not sponsor co-educational programs until 1979.

The name change also reflects an overall mandate to improve services for disadvantaged children, Mr. Garth said. In keeping with the new title, the national organization is urging local clubs to eliminate gender-biased language from learning materials and to focus on sexism in administrative policy and staffing.

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