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Dropout Factories

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A dropout factory serves as a derogatory label applied to any high school where 40% or more of the students quit before their final year. Like a factory that churns out a product, sadly a dropout factory churns out students who fail to graduate.

These schools tend to be in urban and/or impoverished areas. Students who enter often lack skills expected for their grade level, which then requires teachers to conduct remedial classes. What's more, there are external lures and pressures, such as drugs and gangs. Work also pulls students away, especially in areas with a history of manual or blue-collar labor where a high school degree may not have proven necessary for past generations. However, the question must be asked: How can any community succeed in the 21st century when so many of its youth lack a fundamental education?


Preview the lesson material:

Warm Up: Discuss the question with your partner for five minutes.

  1. What does dropout mean? Have you ever heard this word before?

Comprehension Questions: Answer the questions before/after your read the article.

  1. What is the meaning of a dropout factory?
               a. a factory that produces dropouts
               b. a place that churns out products
               c. any school where 60% of the students quit
               d. a school where many students quit
  2. What is not a factor of the dropout rate?
               a. students come from poor families
               b. there is a focus on work not school in the area
               c. students lack education
               d. there are drug and gang problems

Discuss: Discuss these questions with a partner. Remember to support your answers.

  1. Do you agree with the author that education is important in the 21st century?
  2. What sort of high school did you attend? What sort of problems did it have?
  3. What possible solutions are there to lower the dropout rate at these schools?

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