High School Graduation

three students in caps and gownsWhy is it important to make sure as many students as possible end up with a diploma? People who graduate from high school have better health than those who don't. In fact, research shows education is the strongest predictor of long-term health.

APHA supports efforts to help students succeed in school. The Healthy People 2020 goal is to increase the proportion of students who graduate four years after starting ninth grade. Graduation rates are improving, yet racial and ethnic disparities remain.

And while the number of students dropping out of high school is decreasing, the problem is still dire. "Approximately 6,000 students daily are pushed out, pulled out or just give up on school," said Terri Wright, director of APHA's Center for School, Health and Education. What can we do? Support school-based health centers, and spread the word that making sure everyone graduates from high school makes good public health sense. Here are some specific ways you can help:

  • Be aware of disciplinary policies and practices that treat or affect some students unequally.
  • Know the social and environmental factors that derail school success.
  • Become a champion of school-based health centers in your local school.


The Dropout Crisis: A Public Health Problem and the Role of School-Based Health Care (PDF)

Center for School, Health and Education Director's Letter on High School Graduation (PDF)

Healthier Students are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap (PDF)

APHA Policy Statement: Public Health and Education: Working Collaboratively Across Sectors to Improve High School Graduation as a Means to Eliminate Health Disparities

Visit APHA's Center for School, Health and Education