Although the number of students who do not graduate from high school has fallen between 2000 and 2015, too many students still do not graduate each year. In 2017, 700,000 of those entering the 9th grade will not receive their high school diploma at the end of four years. By 2020, this could increase to 750,000 students who will drop out of school and face poorer opportunities, income, and health. This is especially true for girls who face overlapping barriers to education. The National Women’s Law Center’s Let Her Learn: Stopping School Pushout reports highlight the many barriers that girls face in school including sexual violence, pregnancy and parenting, race, sex, and disability discrimination, a lack of housing security and involvement with the criminal justice system. Although girls are optimistic and resilient, for some girls, the challenges are too large to overcome, and ultimately these girls are pushed out of school and do not graduate.
Research, however, shows that girls want to graduate from high school; they are just not offered enough support to be successful. The National Women’s Law Center Let Her Learn Survey found that not only do girls want to finish high school, but 86 percent of girls are interested in a four year college and 67 percent are interested in graduate school. These girls also indicated that they wanted additional help to achieve those goals, including 88 percent who said they wanted help applying to college and 86 percent of girls who said they wanted individualized graduation plans designed to help them graduate.