Can Glee Club Reduce High School Dropout Rates?

Mother Jones
January 9, 2011
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It's 8 a.m., and Mission High School choir director Steven Hankle is about to start class. Soul and hip-hop tunes play softly in the background while students trickle in. Before Hankle became a teacher at Mission High in 2009, the school hadn't had a music program in three years. This really bothered Principal Eric Guthertz. "There are countless studies that show that students who are engaged in the arts perform better," Guthertz says. "On the other hand, music grades don't count in the test scores measured by the state." But after the school's staff and parents hired a music teacher, the fledgling choir took off. Student singers performed in front of 2,500 people at Davies Hall in San Francisco. Test scores shot up—especially among African American and Latino students—and dropout rates declined from 32 to 8 percent in a single year. Principal Guthertz credits the music choir in part for this success.

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