The Maryland economy would see an estimated $12 million in additional tax revenues if just half of those who dropped out in the Baltimore region had stayed in school and graduated with their class in June 2008, according to a study released recently by the Alliance for Excellent Education.

The alliance's study showed that when students drop out, they hurt not only their future earning capacity but also the regional and national economy.

The study found that more than half a million students in the 50 largest cities and surrounding areas dropped out during the 2007-2008 school year. If only half had graduated, they would have earned an additional $4 billion a year, pumping about $536 million in tax revenues into their state and local jurisdictions every year.

"If you want to transform your city, transform your high schools," said Bob Wise, president of the Washington-based alliance, which works on high school reform policies that promote getting more at-risk students to graduate.

The study assumes that 9,685 students in the Class of 2008 from Baltimore and the five surrounding counties of Harford, Baltimore, Howard, Queen Anne's and Anne Arundel dropped out.

The alliance acknowledges that the actual number of dropouts is probably lower because school districts believe the model that was used for the estimate produces inflated results. The alliance used the graduation rates calculated by Editorial Projects in Education because it is the only one with national statistics.

The alliance assumes that the average graduation rate in the Baltimore area is 73.4 percent. Baltimore City reported to the state a graduation rate of 62 percent last year. The rate was 84 percent in Baltimore County and 94.87 percent in Howard County.

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