“One of the best documented relationships in economics is the link between education and income…More highly educated people have higher incomes. Failure to graduate from high school has both private and public consequences: income is lower, which means lower tax contributions to finance public services.”
— The Costs and Benefits of An Excellent Education for All of America’s Children
Studies show the impact of dropping out versus obtaining a higher educational degree. As education level increases, public expenditures decrease and tax contributions increase.
Indicator 1: Children Entering School Ready to Learn
Why is this important? The research is clear: a child’s brain development is shaped between ages 0-5. The Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Project states, “Children who enter K-12 school system without being ready are more likely to fall below grade level expectations, to be retained in school, to be placed in special education, to drop out of high school, to not attend college, and to become unemployed.”
School readiness is assessed by a child’s skills in language, cognition, social development, approach to learning and general knowledge. Quality early child development programs help children become proficient in these areas, become ready for school, and put them on a path to greater academic achievement, health and quality of life. Preparing children to enter school ready to learn also provides significant returns on our investment, saving taxpayers an estimated $10,000 per student in reduced crime, healthcare, grade retention, special education and increased labor market earnings.
How is the region doing? In South Hampton Roads, investment in early child education has made significant improvement over the last ten years. The number of kindergartners retained has dropped from 880 in 2005 to 369 in 2015, a decrease of 58%.
Indicator 2: High School Dropouts
Why is this important? The high school dropout rate tells us how many students are leaving the school system before they have acquired the basic skills for earning a living and maintaining self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.
Unemployment and incarceration rates are much higher for dropouts than for high school graduates. The U.S. Department of Educations says that dropouts are twice as likely to live in poverty than high school graduates.
There are a variety of factors that can lead students to drop out of school. For females it can typically be pregnancy and parenthood. Additional factors include: failing grades and inability to catch up; frequent absences; changing schools; not being challenged by school; not getting along with teachers and students; coming from a low-income for single-parent family, substance abuse or mental health problems; or having a sibling or friends who dropped out.
How is the region doing? The region is making progress in lowering the dropout rate. Over the past six years, the dropout rate in South Hampton Roads decreased by 54%, from 1,429 students (9.8%) to 654 students (5.1%).