The number of high school age students who do not complete high school is receiving increased attention as a serious challenge facing the educational system. This is happening for several reasons. New research estimates that about 30 percent of high school students fail to earn a diploma in the standard number of years, a higher figure than state and local education officials typically cite. In many states, barely half of African-Americans and Latinos graduate from high school. The magnitude of the challenge is becoming clear at the same time that a consensus is emerging that education beyond high school is critical to economic self-sufficiency and success in today's knowledge-intensive economy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 60 percent of jobs created between now and 2010 will require at least some postsecondary education. In the emerging economy, a high school dropout or a young person who earns a GED, but no further postsecondary credential, has extremely few opportunities for a family-supporting career. Addressing the dropout crisis will require responding to a dual challenge: state education systems must promote and support both dropout prevention strategies and dropout recovery efforts. This brief describes current practice in both prevention and recovery, highlighting promising approaches in each area that can help reduce stubbornly high dropout rates. It concludes with several suggestions for how state policymakers can help promote a more systemic approach to the dropout crisis.

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