Teen pregnancy and high school drop-out rates linked in new report

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and America’s Promise Alliance released a new report on teen pregnancy and drop-out rates. The report looked specifically at the number of drop-outs and teen births in 25 persistently low-achieving school districts — including Duval County.

Duval County has a graduation rate of 49.9 percent, with 5,550 projected drop-outs and 1,479 teen births, according to the report.

The report includes alarming statistics about teen parents and school: 30 percent of all teen girls who have dropped out of high school cite pregnancy or parenthood as a key reason and less than two percent of teen mothers will have a college degree by age 30.

Because of the link between teen pregnancy and students dropping out, the report suggests that community members commited to improving graduation rates should address teen pregnancy in their efforts. 

The Northeast Florida Teen Pregnancy Task Force, which looked at the high teen birth rates in the greater Jacksonville area, agrees. A key implementation strategy in their community action plan is to:

“Reframe teen pregnancy as an issue that affects school performance and drop out rates and work to engage organizations in addressing teen pregnancy as part of their strategies for improving school success.”

While the report highlighted 25 counties with high dropout rates, it also focused on the successful efforts of six school systems: the Bronx, Texas (Harris County), Los Angeles, Memphis, the West Virginia Department of Education and Virginia (Roanoke).

Several suggestions are provided to help communities improve both their drop-out and teen birth rates, including:

  • Ask parents what they want to see in schools.
  • Educate community leaders and parents about the link between teen pregnancy and dropping out.
  • Professional development for district staff and teachers who may be responsible for teaching sex education curricula.
  • Sharing best practices with other communities and states.