An After-School Music Program

Nutrition for the Mind and Soul

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An After-School Music Program

Nutrition for the Mind and Soul


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DonateNow to Music for Life National Capital Area
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An After-School Music Program
Nutrition for the Mind and Soul


Guitars not Guns National Capital Area GraduationCrisis in high school graduation rates

A student's decision to drop out of school has long-term consequences that can contribute to juvenile delinquency, welfare dependency or prison. According to the NCES, the percentage of 16 through 24-year-olds who were not enrolled in school, or who did not have a high school diploma or a GED credential was about 8.3% (3.1 million people) in 2012; 5.3% of Whites, 10.3% of Blacks and 16.7%of Hispanics.

The economic value attached to completion of ever-greater levels of education has been well documented in Census data. In 2000, adult’s ages 25 to 34 that had dropped out of school or had not acquired a GED, earned up to 30 percent less than their peers who had completed high school or had GEDs. The gap widened when comparing the incomes of high school dropouts with those people with bachelor's degrees. But the value of a high school education cannot be measured in dollars alone. Rates of high-risk behaviors such as teen pregnancy, delinquency, substance abuse, and crime are significantly higher among dropouts.

Although the overall high school dropout rate has declined from 14% to 8% over the past two decades, it still represents a substantial number of people. There are also great variances among racial and ethnic groups and geographical regions. The associated issue is the changing job market. the percentage of jobs that require more than a high school diploma is steadily increasing which means that the comparable statistic today is more likely those without a high school diploma and one or two years of post high school education.

The strongest predictors that a student is likely to drop out are family characteristics such as: socioeconomic status, family structure, family stress and the mother's age. Students who come from low-income families, are the children of single, young, unemployed mothers, or who have experienced high degrees of family stress are more likely than other students to drop out of school. Of those characteristics, low socioeconomic status has been shown to bear the strongest relationship to students' tendency to drop out.

The tendency for students to drop out is also associated with their school experiences. According to the U.S. Department of Education, students drop out of school for the following reasons:

  • Dislike of school;
  • Low academic achievement;
  • Retention at grade level;
  • A sense that teachers and administrators do not care about students; and
  • Inability to feel comfortable in a large, depersonalized school setting (1999).

Our music program addresses the first, second and fifth factors on the above list.

Research indicates that the lower the achievement level, the greater the likelihood that a student will drop out of school. Grade retention—being "held back" or flunked—has also been found to be highly correlated with dropping out.

According to a 2002 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, schools generally approach the dropout problem in three different ways. Schools tend to: provide supplemental services for needy students, offer different learning environments as an alternative to the regular classroom, or institute school wide restructuring efforts. There are numerous examples of these in school districts across the county and they have been effective in lowing dropout rates. Yet, as accountability and standards continue to dominate school policy, some experts say that more and more students may feel pressured to dropout. According to an analysis conducted at the University of Chicago, low-performing students in states requiring graduation testing were 25% more likely to drop out of school before graduation then were their counterparts in non-testing states (Jacob, 2000).

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