/ Modified sep 24, 2012 3:43 p.m.

Frontline: Dropout Nation

A look at a high-stakes experiment to rescue students prepared to quit high school without a diploma. Tuesday at 9 p.m. on PBS 6.

frontiline_dropout_nation_spot Sharpstown High School graduation ceremony, June 3, 2012, Houston, Texas. Of the 455 students who entered the class as freshmen, 217 made it to graduation. (PHOTO: PBS)

What does it take to save a student? Every year, hundreds of thousands of teenagers in the United States quit high school without diplomas — an epidemic so out of control that nobody knows the exact number. What is clear is that massive dropout rates cripple individual career prospects and cloud the country’s future.

At Houston’s Sharpstown High, once a notorious “dropout factory,” a high-stakes experiment is underway to rescue students from the edge. FRONTLINE spent a semester immersed in Sharpstown High to produce an unforgettable portrait of four students in crisis and the teachers, counselors and principal waging a daily, personal struggle to get them to graduation. A troubling and inspiring journey through the maze of an inner-city high school, “Dropout Nation” investigates the causes, challenges, and potential solutions of a national emergency.

Frontline: Dropout Nation, Tuesday at 9 p.m. on PBS 6.

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