Dropout Factories

Some secondary schools are successfully graduating their students prepared for what lies ahead-one in three high schools graduate 90 percent of their students. Unfortunately, there is a small subset of chronically underperforming high schools that are poorly serving some or all of their students and are responsible for a majority of nation’s dropout crisis.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have identified almost 2,000 high schools (about 13 percent of American high schools) where the typical freshman class shrinks by 40 percent or more by the time the students reach their senior year. These “dropout factories ” serve large numbers of minority and low-income students, and have fewer resources and less-qualified teachers than schools in more affluent neighborhoods with larger numbers of white students. In fact, 38 percent of African American students and 33 percent of Latino students attend dropout factories.

The nearly 2,000 dropout factories turn out 51 percent of the nation’s dropouts. They produce 81 percent of all Native American dropouts, 73 percent of all African American dropouts, and 66 percent of all Hispanic dropouts. This is powerful information. By addressing the persistent failure of this relatively small number of high schools – by transforming the nation’s dropout factories – we can fundamentally improve educational outcomes for America’s students and better their impact on America’s society.

Every state has at least one school and many have more than one.  Visit to see which schools in your state are “dropout factories”.