01/30/2012 02:15 pm ET Updated Jan 31, 2012

Dropout Rates: Student Journalist Investigates High School Dropout Crisis (VIDEO)

"I'm dropping out" are words spoken by roughly a quarter of American high school students.

Every nine seconds, an American high school student becomes a dropout -- that's approximately one in four students who enter high school as freshmen and fail to earn a diploma four years later. Obama put a national spotlight on the issue of high school dropout rates in his State of the Union speech last week, calling for states to mandate that every student stays in school until they turn 18. And while discussing education in Florida last year, Obama said to young people: "You can't drop out. You can't even think about dropping out."

Reporting for the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, David Corbat of Michigan's Fraser High School investigates the rising dropout rates in American high schools, asking why students are choosing to drop out and what districts are doing to keep their students in school.

Corbat also inquires about what comes after high school for students who choose to drop out. "If a better education leads to a better job, what happens to students who drop out?" Watch the video above to see what he found out.

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