Don't Call Them Dropouts

The Challenge

America’s Promise Alliance CEO John Gromperts said at the beginning of this project that we all “share the responsibility and opportunity for creating the conditions under which all young people have a real chance to thrive.” This is why, together with the President and the Secretary of Education, America’s Promise set a goal of raising the graduation rate from its current 80 percent to 90 percent by 2020. They then approached us to investigate research questions and the public’s perception about graduating from high school. With this research, America’s Promise wanted to gain insight into the experiences of people who don’t graduate high schedule versus those who do, and make recommendations for helping young people on their education journey based off this research.

The Strategy

In order to make sure the study was clear and comprehensive, we utilized a mixed-methodology consisting of in-person group interviews and an online survey. We conducted 30 group interviews in 16 cities among 212 people, while the online survey was conducted among 1,942 young people who left high school and 1,023 people who had graduated without interruption, all of whom were between the ages of 18 and 25.

With both the broader online survey and more in-depth group interviews, we were able to gather multiple themes and findings and categorize them as conclusions of our research. America’s Promise then crafted recommendations based on these conclusions, with the goal of, CEO Gomperts’ words, “helping to build a future in which all young people can flourish and thrive.”

The Results

Through our comprehensive, mixed-method survey, we were able to conclude four major findings among respondents, draw five conclusions from the study, and make five recommendations moving forward. The report was released by America’s Promise, partnered with Target, and dispersed heavily among the education world. Additionally, the study was picked up by media outlets such as CNN and the Huffington Post and was made into a short documentary.

Read the study here.