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grades are twice as likely to drop out as those who have never been held back. Children whose primary language is not English are also at substantial risk.

Poverty is one of the strongest predictors. The dropout rate for students from the lowest 20% of all family incomes is six times that of their peers from families in the highest 20% (NCES, November 2000).

Other identified at-risk factors include a stressful or unstable home life, parents or older siblings who dropped out, school truancy and excessive absenteeism, substance abuse, pregnancy, and legal problems.

Female

Male

less than high school

$16,469

$22,589

high school graduate

$23,061

$33,184

What about Montana? What is the dropout picture in our state? The dropout rate in Montana for all students is about 4%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2002, the median

annual income as related to level of education in Montana was:

But it is the alarmingly high dropout rate for American Indian students that is of major concern to Montanans. The dropout rate for American Indian students in Montana is a little over 10% (Montana Statewide Dropout Report 2000-01, Office of Public Instruction) and shows no sign of

decreasing.

In addition, American Indian students drop out of high school at a rate three times

greater than non-Indians. What is most alarming, however, is that American Indian students are beginning to drop out of school at a much younger age. American Indian students drop out of grades seven and eight at a rate 12 times greater than non-Indians (OPI Dropout Report). In addition, graduation data for the last 6 years shows that only 56% of American Indian students

who enroll as freshmen graduate in 4 years, compared to 82% of their non-Indian peers (OPI Fall Reports).

These alarming statistics are the genesis of House Joint Resolution No. 8 (HJR 8). In November of 2002, the Montana-Wyoming Indian Education Association and the Montana Advisory Council on Indian Education held a public hearing in Helena on American Indian high school dropouts. Over 125 people from all walks of life and from Indian and non-Indian communities across Montana participated in the hearing. As a result of this hearing, Representative Carol Juneau introduced HJR 8 in the 2003 Legislature.

HJR 8 requests that an appropriate interim committee gather information relating to dropout

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