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"A Gift to Society - A New Graduate"

A recent study, by Henry Levin of the Columbia University Teachers College and colleagues, presents data demonstrating that investing in five programs proven to decrease dropout rates could save billions of tax dollars in increased tax revenue from higher paying jobs and decreased spending on other government programs over the lifetime of a cohort of students.

In "The Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education for All of America's Children," Henry Levin, Clive Belfield, Peter Muennig, and Cecilia Rouse find that an overall investment of $82,000 in educational programs and additional schooling years per potential dropout creates $209,100 in tax revenues and decreased public spending over the lifetime of that student, yielding a net gain of $127,100 (all estimates are in current dollars).  "In all fairness we want these students to complete high school so they have more opportunities, but the surprise is that there is a gift to society--a new graduate," said Dr. Levin.

The dropout problem in the United States is immense.  Annually, 1.2 million American students leave high school without receiving a diploma.  The U.S. has dropped from 1st to 11th when ranked by graduation rates in comparison to other industrialized nations, falling below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average (OECD Sept. 2006). 

This article appeared in the April 11, 2007 edition of the 

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