Barely half  — a mere 52 percent — of students in America’s 50 most populous metropolitan areas graduated in the 2003-04 school year, according to the Department of Education.  

Colin L. Powell,  former U.S. Secretary of State and founding chairman of the America’s Promise Alliance, called the situation “not just a crisis; this is a catastrophe.

Here’s one factor that has proven helpful to keeping youths in school longer: abstinence education. Studies show abstinent teens report, on average, better psychological well-being and higher academic achievement than those who are sexually active.

As the data below show, sexually active teens are more likely to drop out of high school and not pursue college than are those who wait.