The purpose of this article is to show that there is a correlation between dropout rates and teen pregnancy, and to discuss ways to prevent teen pregnancy. The American Promise Alliance evaluated data on school districts that struggle with both poor school completion and high numbers of teen births. They identified 25 schools with the highest dropout and teen pregnancy rates. And they also evaluated school districts with high school completion rates and innovative pregnancy prevention programs to help students avoid early pregnancy and parenthood. The 25 persistently low achieving school districts account for twenty percent of all high school dropouts in the USA. Thirty percent of all teen girls that drop out of school cite pregnancy or parenthood as the reason. Thirty four percent young women who were teen mothers did not earn a diploma or GED.
Less than two percent of teen mothers attained a college degree by age 30. School districts with higher school completion rates recognized the correlation between teen pregnancy and school dropout; they initiated programs to address these two high priorities. School districts collaborated with organizations receiving federally funded teen pregnancy prevention grants, such as US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Adolescent Health’s (OAH), and evidenced based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program(TPP). Through their collaboration, grantees could use the funds in a variety of evidenced based models to meet the needs of their school, community and the age of the students being served.
Description of Participants/Sample
The participants in this study were all the teenagers in the USA. All USA students that attended public schools were a part of the data collection. School completion, pregnancy rate and dropout rate data was gathered from every public school in all the US school districts.
Research Design/Data Analysis
America’s Promise Alliance analyzed data from four reputable sources on teen pregnancy and dropout rates, and identified the school districts with the highest dropout rates. They also analyzed the data on teen birth rates or teen pregnancy rates from these school districts with high dropout rates.
Diplomas Count 2011, Common Core of Data (CCD), VitalStats and Child Trend were the four sources of data information that was used to examine the number of dropouts and teen births within the 25 persistently lowest achieving school districts. Diplomas Count is a national report from Education Week and Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) Research Center, which provides graduation rates and graduation trends for all the public schools in the USA. Diplomas Count then identifies the 25 persistently lowest achieving school. Data on total school enrollment and enrollment by grade level was extracted from CCD. VitalStats and Child Trends provided data on teen birth rates and numbers.
The data draws a parallel between high school dropouts and teen births. The data shows the school districts that struggle with poor school completion and high numbers of teen births and how various school districts are tackling these issues.
Opportunities for Further Research
The America’s Promise Alliance needs to collect more data for evidence that teen pregnancy caused dropouts, rather than just being correlated with dropout rate. After the 25 identified school districts with the high dropout and teen pregnancy rate implemented pregnancy prevention, the Alliance could check back in a year with these school districts to see if the dropout rate changed.
Threats to Validity
The four sources cited in this study are all very reputable sources that are cited often in the field of education. But although the America’s Promise Alliance spent a lot of discussion regarding the link between dropout rates and teen pregnancy, and suggesting that combating teen pregnancy could lower dropout rates, they ended the article by saying “readers should note that this data is meant only to draw a parallel between high school dropouts and teen births. No quantitative analysis to examine the statistical significance of the association between these two issues was performed and, therefore, causality should not be inferred.” They spent most of the article talking about things (teen pregnancy and dropout rates) that only made sense if there was causation, and then at the end of the article they retracted this conclusion from the readers.
Insight and Criticism
Teens getting pregnant while still in school are more likely to drop out of school, but the data in this article does not prove this, but I think it made a strange correlation between the two. There may be other factors that make pregnancy and dropping out more likely.
Implications of Findings
Thirty percent of teen girls who drop out of school cite pregnancy or parenthood as their reason. The connection between teen pregnancy or teen parenthood and educational attainment is strong. All interested parties in the prospect of these teen parents and their children need to collaborate and develop strategies to reduce the risk of them dropping out of school.
Shuger, L. (2012). Teen pregnancy and High School Dropout: What Communities are Doing to Address These Issues. Washington, DC: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned pregnancy and America’s Promise Alliance. Retrieved November 2012, from www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/…/teen-preg-hs-dropout.pdf
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