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Report: 2012 High School Dropouts to Cost Gilbert $139 Million Over Lifetime

Statewide, Lifetime Economic Loss from 2012 Dropouts Estimated at $7.6 Billion

Post Date:06/25/2014 4:12 PM

AZ Mayors Education RoundtableGilbert, Ariz. - The 11.3 percent of students who dropped out from Gilbert public schools in 2012 are estimated to cost Gilbert $139 million in lifetime economic losses, along with $15 million in lifetime fiscal losses to taxpayers, according to new data provided by the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable.
Based on Arizona’s overall 80 percent graduation rate in 2012, researchers determined the lifetime economic losses to the state for the estimated 18,100 youths who failed to graduate that year will amount to $7.6 billion. Of that amount, $1.5 billion represents fiscal losses to state and local governments.
By not addressing the dropout issue, those lifetime losses pile up, with similar numbers likely experienced for each graduating class. Statewide, reducing the number of dropouts by half, to 10 percent, would generate more than $3.8 billion in economic benefits to the state for each graduating class.
“Our job is to ensure that all of our students graduate from high school, leaving ready for college and career,” Gilbert Mayor John Lewis said. “We cannot and must not accept the high percentage of students choosing to drop out of high school. Dropping out is not a viable option. In our changing economy, we all know that a high school diploma is a non-negotiable when it comes to success.”
“At current rates, 20 percent of Arizona ninth graders today will not graduate from high school,” said Greg Stanton, mayor of Phoenix and chair of the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable. “That is one in five less likely to find a job. One in five less likely to earn a living wage. One in five less likely to financially care for a family. That is one in five too many.”
To address this significant problem, the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable has launched a statewide discussion to explore how local communities can close the graduation gap and ensure more children leave high school having earned a diploma. In addition to looking at state and Gilbert numbers, the Roundtable also examined at the specific impact on communities including Avondale, Goodyear, Mesa, Oro Valley, Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson.
The lifetime economic losses in those communities for the Class of 2012 dropouts range from $1.4 billion in Phoenix to $39.8 million in Oro Valley. 
The Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable, in collaboration with the California Dropout Research Project, produced the research, which is available at Gilbert is a participating member of the Roundtable.
“We appreciate the leadership of the Mayors Roundtable in shedding more light on a critical issue like the impact of the dropout rate on our state¹s future economic viability,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation. “Having the Mayors hold these statewide discussions will help enable our communities to identify and respond to the contributing factors and set goals that will re-engage students and put them back on the path toward college and career readiness.”
“Beyond the profound consequences to individuals and their families,” adds Paul H. Koehler, director of WestEd’s Policy Center and coordinator of its Mayors Roundtable program, “we are now able to quantify the impact of school dropouts on Arizona’s economy. This report should serve as a clarion call to action for state educators, policy makers, and all Arizonans.”
Russell W. Rumberger, a professor of education at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Director of the California Dropout Research Project served as lead author. Data was compiled from the Arizona Department of Education, U.S. Census American Community Survey and the 2014 study, The Economic Losses from High School Dropouts and Disconnected Youth: Evidence from Across Arizona, written by Clive R. Belfield, professor at Queens College, City University of New York.
“The losses from failure to graduate from high school are sizeable, robust and pervasive,” Belfield reports. “The social loss amounts to more than a high school dropout will earn in their lifetime; and the fiscal loss is almost equivalent to total spending per student over their entire K-12 years in the Arizona school system.”
About the Arizona Mayors Roundtable
The Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable, a WestEd initiative, brings together mayors of Arizona’s larger cities, district superintendents and their key staff to share data, evidence-based and promising practices and programmatic strategies that can help address local challenges affecting students’ educational and career success. The Roundtable is convened by WestEd and funded with core support by Helios Education Foundation.
About the California Dropout Research Project
The California Dropout Research Project was established in December 2006 to synthesize existing research and un¬dertake new research to inform policymakers and the larger public about the nature of—and effective solutions to—the dropout problem in California. To date the project has produced 95 research reports, policy briefs, statistical briefs and a policy report (available from the CDRP website: The project is currently supported by the James Irvine Foundation.

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