Report: La. worst high school dropout rates in country

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 6:23pm

BATON ROUGE, LA — A new report says Louisiana is the worst in the nation when it comes to high school dropouts. The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana says the state’s graduation rate is just 67%. PAR says the biggest reason for the score is that schools are not doing enough to target students at risk of quitting.

The report lists the biggest reasons why kids in Louisiana drop out of school. They include falling behind in classes, discipline problems, boredom, and in some cases, an outside situation, like the death of a family member or becoming pregnant.

According to PAR, 1 in 6 students from the 2006 freshman class didn’t graduate in four years. That means 8,000 students dropped out sometime within that four-year time frame.

In East Baton Rouge parish, more than 25 percent dropped out within a four-year period. That’s compared to 12% in Ascension Parish, almost 8% in Livingston parish, and 13% in West Baton Rouge Parish.

PAR goes on to say that the trend statewide is improving when it comes to dropout rates.

Now, state education officials are hoping to meet an 80% graduation rate by 2014, but researchers from PAR so they have a long way to go. They found if extra action isn’t taken, the state will be 3,700 students short of their goal.

Researchers say state and local school districts should put resources behind dropout programs that have proven successful. They also believe in putting extra money towards dropout prevention.

“There’s no single idea. There’s no magic bullet that anybody has found in any state to solve this problem,” says PAR President, Robert Scott.

“The idea is to look for as many ways as possible to keep students engaged, keep them interested, and get them to finish,” says report author, Dr. Karen Rowley.

They suggest getting kids interested in education early on and providing mentors for students who are at risk of dropping out.

The biggest fear for students is that they won’t find jobs without a high school diploma. According to the report, the outlook for dropouts is generally very grim. Researchers say dropouts have a higher rate of unemployment, lower earnings, and poorer health.

One Louisiana man defied those odds and found a unique opportunity without graduating from high school, but he says his case is very rare. See that story on our website at


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