- A student earns his high school diploma but takes five or six years to do so.
- A student leaves the public high school and earns his GED.
- A student forgoes finishing high school because she has been accepted to a prestigious college where she begins working on her bachelor's degree. (Yes, this really happens.)
- A student, because of disabilities, is unable to meet the requirements for a general diploma but completes four or more years of high school, earning what is called a certificate of attendance.
In the second scenario the GED is good enough to allow a student to enter community college or other universities, but is considered a failure by Indiana legislative standards.
Considering the third scenario, it does not follow that a student who is accepted by a university should be considered a dropout.
In the last scenario, it could be argued that the students do not earn a diploma, but these students finish four or more years of high school. This cannot be called dropping out by any standard.
When one drops out, one does not continue working toward the goal. To dropout means to quit, to give up, to stop working toward the goal.
If the State of Indiana is serious about working to reduce the number of dropouts, the first step is to change the definition of dropout. I do not suggest this as an easy way to increase the number of students being successful, but as a means of providing options for students who need options. For one reason that students dropout is that they feel they have no other option. As we are for charter schools to provide people with choice, we should be for changing the definition of dropout, to provide choice and to support students in earning the high school diploma.