Graduation rates are key measures of a nation’s economic health. This is a critical indicator for parents, as well as policy makers in examining how the education system is performing. Essentially, if there are many graduates, it shows that the current education system is working well. With a 44% annual dropout rate, the State of New Mexico has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the United States. In New Mexico, high school dropouts earn only $12,000 per year while college graduates earn $30,000 per year. These high dropout rates cost the state an average of $3.6 billion in lost lifetime wages, with further costs borne by the community as dropouts are more likely to remain unemployed and dependent on government welfare assistance. There is also evidence of high criminal activity among high school dropouts. This worrying trend calls for new measures aimed at reducing the dropout rates.
In an attempt to decrease the dropout rates and to increase the quality of education, the government enforced the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This research aims to explore whether the NCLB Act has been successful in the Las Cruces Public School District. This school district has a number of schools that have been labelled as “School in Need of Improvement”. Under the NCLB Act, every state must set goals that each school must meet. Schools that do not meet the standards for adequate yearly progress (AYP) for two consecutive years will be identified as a “School that Needs Improvement”. Most of the schools that are in this category have the highest dropout rates in New Mexico.
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