nation's worst dropout rate
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 26, 2005
Once again, Arizona's high school dropout rate is the worst in the nation,
though this time we share last place with Louisiana.
For the fourth year in a row, Arizona ranked last among the states for its
percentage of teens, ages 16 to 19, who have dropped out of school. The
findings, based on 2003 census data, are in the annual Kids Count report
released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore.
Arizona's dropout rate is 12 percent, compared to 8 percent nationally. New
Jersey, North Dakota and Wisconsin, at 4 percent, shared the top showing.
The good news is Arizona's rate has improved.In 1998, 17 percent of teens didn't
graduate, double the national average at the time.
"We've gotten better," says Carol Kamin, director of Children's Action Alliance,
a nonprofit group, "but we haven't shown the same kind of improvements as other
But Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne contends that Arizona's
dropout rate is closer to 6 percent: "I think that organization has their
Experts consider the Kids Count ranking a good measure, Kamin said, because it
uses census data, not self-reported figures from the nation's education
departments: "It's comparing apples to apples."
Regardless of who's numbers are more accurate, too many kids are dropping out.
Typically, high school dropouts earn $5,000 a year less, are 60 percent more
likely to be unemployed and 80 percent of those in Arizona prisons are dropouts.