Student Profiles

Staying on course to graduate isn’t an easy task for many students, report Indianapolis teenagers who have struggled.

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  • Paul J. Jones
  • David A. Carter
  • Sabrina Ratcliff
  • Jasmine Titus
  • Sa'Brina Reeves
  • Abenet Tekeste

Throughout this report are the stories of Indianapolis teenagers who dropped out of school or came close to doing so. Their experiences help explain, in part, the high dropout rates that plague schools and districts across the nation.

We talked with young people in Indianapolis because its struggle to boost graduation rates mirrors in many ways the challenges of districts elsewhere. The 38,000-student Indianapolis public school district is beefing up its curricula and assessments, enhancing teacher training, and dividing its high schools into small learning communities in an attempt to better engage and more fully prepare young people for college or work.

The district’s graduation rate is improving, but leaders say it is still far too low. They know that the traditional way of calculating the rate—which has produced a figure of 88 percent— doesn’t capture the true dropout picture. A 2005 analysis, performed for the Indianapolis Star by a Johns Hopkins University researcher, concluded that only 39 percent of the freshmen who enter Indianapolis high schools leave four years later with a diploma—one of the nation’s worst graduation rates for an urban district.

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As educators nationwide ask why so many young people disappear from their classrooms and what can be done about it, the voices of these Indianapolis teenagers can inform that debate.

Vol. 25, Issue 41S, Pages 6, 10, 13-14, 19, 21, 24

Published in Print: June 22, 2006, as Student Profiles

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