Credit: Wesley Bedrosian
Are you sitting down? Each year, more than a million kids will leave school without earning a high school diploma -- that's approximately 7,000 students every day of the academic year. Without that diploma, they'll be more likely to head down a path that leads to lower-paying jobs, poorer health, and the possible continuation of a cycle of poverty that creates immense challenges for families, neighborhoods, and communities.
For some students, dropping out is the culmination of years of academic hurdles, missteps, and wrong turns. For others, the decision to drop out is a response to conflicting life pressures -- the need to help support their family financially or the demands of caring for siblings or their own child. Dropping out is sometimes about students being bored and seeing no connection between academic life and "real" life. It's about young people feeling disconnected from their peers and from teachers and other adults at school. And it's about schools and communities having too few resources to meet the complex emotional and academic needs of their most vulnerable youth.
Although the reasons for dropping out vary, the consequences of the decision are remarkably similar. Over a lifetime, dropouts typically earn less, suffer from poorer health as adults, and are more likely to wind up in jail than their diploma-earning peers. An August 2007 report by the California Dropout Research Project (PDF) detailed the economic and social impacts of failing to finish high school in the Golden State. The numbers cited in the report are sobering: High school graduates earn an average of nearly $290,000 more than dropouts over their lifetime, and they are 68 percent less apt to rely on public assistance. The link between dropout rates and crime is also well documented, and the report's data indicates that high school graduation reduces violent crime by 20 percent. And nationally, the economic impact is clear: A 2011 analysis by the Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that by halving the 2010 national dropout rate, for example (an estimated 1.3 million students that year), "new" graduates would likely earn a collective $7.6 billion more in an average year than they would without a high school diploma.
Mounting research on the causes and consequences of dropping out, coupled with more accurate reporting on the extent of the crisis, has led to increased public focus on what's been called the silent epidemic. And with that focus comes the possibility of more action at the local, state, and national levels to implement a mix of reforms that will support all students through high school graduation. Such reforms include early identification of and support for struggling students, more relevant and engaging courses, and structural and scheduling changes to the typical school day.
Decades of research and pockets of success point to measures that work. Here are ten strategies that can help reduce the dropout rate in your school or community. We begin with steps to connect students and parents to school and then address structural, programmatic, and funding changes:
1. Engage and Partner with Parents
It's an all-too-familiar story: Parent involvement declines as students get older and become more independent. But although the role of parents changes in secondary school, their ongoing engagement -- from regular communication with school staff to familiarity with their child's schedule, courses, and progress toward graduation -- remains central to students' success. Findings in a March 2006 report, "The Silent Epidemic," illustrate the importance of engaged parents throughout secondary school. Sixty-eight percent of the high school dropouts who participated in the study said their parents became involved in their education only after realizing their student was contemplating dropping out of school.
In Sacramento, California, high school staff members make appointments with parents for voluntary home visits, to keep parents engaged with their children's progress. This strategy -- which has so far been replicated nationally in eleven states, plus the District of Columbia -- includes placing as many visits as possible during summer and fall to parents of teens entering high school -- a critical transition point for many students -- to begin building a net of support and to connect parents to the new school. Staffers also conduct summer, fall, and spring home visits between and during the sophomore and junior years to students who are at risk of not graduating because of deficiencies in course credits, the possibility of failing the state high school exit exam (a condition of graduation), or poor grades. Visits in the summer after junior year and fall of senior year are to ensure that students are on track for either career or college. Early evaluations of the program by Paul Tuss of Sacramento County Office of Education's Center for Student Assessment and Program Accountability found that students who received a home visit were considerably more likely to be successful in their exit exam intervention and academic-support classes and pass the English portion of the exit exam. A follow-up evaluation of the initial cohort of students at Luther Burbank High School showed that the students both passed the exit exam and graduated high school at significantly higher rates. (Visit the website of the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project.)
2. Cultivate Relationships
A concerned teacher or trusted adult can make the difference between a student staying in school or dropping out. That's why secondary schools around the country are implementing advisories -- small groups of students that come together with a faculty member to create an in-school family of sorts. These advisories, which meet during the school day, provide a structured way of enabling those supporting relationships to grow and thrive. The most effective advisories meet regularly, stay together for several years, and involve staff development that helps teachers support the academic, social, and emotional needs of their students. In Texas, the Austin Independent School District began incorporating advisories into all of its high schools in 2007/2008 to ensure that all students had at least one adult in their school life who knew them well, to build community by creating stronger bonds across social groups, to teach important life skills, and to establish a forum for academic advisement and college and career coaching. (Download a PDF summary of the results of a 2010 survey about Austin's advisory program.)
3. Pay Attention to Warning Signs
Project U-Turn, a collaboration among foundations, parents, young people, and youth-serving organizations such as the school district and city agencies in Philadelphia, grew out of research that analyzed a variety of data sources in order to develop a clear picture of the nature of Philadelphia's dropout problem, get a deeper understanding of which students were most likely to drop out, and identify the early-warning signs that should alert teachers, school staff, and parents to the need for interventions. After looking at data spanning some five years, researchers were able to see predictors of students who were most at risk of not graduating.
Key indicators among eighth graders were a failing final grade in English or math and being absent for more than 20 percent of school days. Among ninth graders, poor attendance (defined as attending classes less than 70% of the time), earning fewer than two credits during 9th grade, and/or not being promoted to 10th grade on time were all factors that put students at significantly higher risk of not graduating, and were key predictors of dropping out. Armed with this information, staff members at the school district, city, and partner organizations have been developing strategies and practices that give both dropouts and at-risk students a web of increased support and services, including providing dropout-prevention specialists in several high schools, establishing accelerated-learning programs for older students who are behind on credits, and implementing reading programs for older students whose skills are well below grade level.
4. Make Learning Relevant
Boredom and disengagement are two key reasons students stop attending class and wind up dropping out of school. In "The Silent Epidemic," 47 percent of dropouts said a major reason for leaving school was that their classes were not interesting. Instruction that takes students into the broader community provides opportunities for all students -- especially experiential learners -- to connect to academics in a deeper, more powerful way.
For example, at Big Picture Learning schools throughout the country, internships in local businesses and nonprofit organizations are integrated into the regular school week. Students work with teacher advisers to find out more about what interests them and to research and locate internships; then on-the-job mentors work with students and school faculty to design programs that build connections between work life and academics. Nationwide, Big Picture schools have an on-time graduation rate of 90 percent. Watch an Edutopia video about Big Picture Schools.
5. Raise the Academic Bar
Increased rigor doesn't have to mean increased dropout rates. Higher expectations and more challenging curriculum, coupled with the support students need to be successful, have proven to be an effective strategy not only for increasing graduation rates, but also for preparing students to graduate from high school with options. In San Jose, California, the San Jose Unified School District implemented a college-preparatory curriculum for all students in 1998. Contrary to the concerns of early skeptics, the more rigorous workload didn't cause graduation rates to plummet. Recent data shows that the SJUSD has a four-year dropout rate of just 11.4 percent, compared with a statewide average of 18.2 percent.
6. Think Small
For too many students, large comprehensive high schools are a place to get lost rather than to thrive. That's why districts throughout the country are working to personalize learning by creating small schools or reorganizing large schools into small learning communities, as part of their strategy for reducing the dropout rate. A 2010 MDRC report funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation looked at the 123 "small schools of choice," or SSCs, that have opened in New York City since 2002. The report showed higher graduation rates at the new schools compared with their much larger predecessors. By the end of their first year in high school, 58.5 percent of students enrolled in SSCs were on track to graduate, compared with 48.5 percent of their peers in other schools, and by the fourth year, graduation rates increased by 6.8 percentage points.
7. Rethink Schedules
For some students, the demands of a job or family responsibilities make it impossible to attend school during the traditional bell schedule. Forward-thinking districts recognize the need to come up with alternatives. Liberty High School, a Houston public charter school serving recent immigrants, offers weekend and evening classes, providing students with flexible scheduling that enables them to work or handle other responsibilities while still attending school. Similarly, in Las Vegas, students at Cowan Sunset Southeast High School's campus can attend classes in the late afternoon and early evening to accommodate work schedules, and they may be eligible for child care, which is offered on a limited basis to help young parents continue their education. Watch an Edutopia video about Cowan Sunset High School.
8. Develop a Community Plan
In its May 2007 report "What Your Community Can Do to End Its Drop-Out Crisis," the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University advocates development of a community-based strategy to combat the problem. Author Robert Balfanz describes three key elements of a community-driven plan: First is knowledge -- understanding the scope of the problem as well as current programs, practices, and resources targeted at addressing it. Second is strategy -- development of what Balfanz describes as a "dropout prevention, intervention, and recovery plan" that focuses community resources. Last is ongoing assessment -- regular evaluation and improvement of practices to ensure that community initiatives are having the desired effect.
9. Invest in Preschool
In their August 2007 report "The Return on Investment for Improving California's High School Graduation Rate" (PDF), Clive R. Belfield and Henry M. Levin review both evidential and promising research as well as economically beneficial interventions for addressing the dropout crisis. Preschool, they argue, is an early investment in youth that yields significant economic results later on. In their review of the research on preschool models in California and elsewhere, the authors found that one preschool program increased high school graduation rates by 11 percent, and another by 19 percent. A 2011 article published in Science by researchers who followed participants in Chicago's early childhood education program Child-Parent Center for 25 years found, among other results, that by age 28, the group that began preschool at age three or four had higher educational levels and incomes, and lower substance abuse problems.
10. Adopt a Student-Centered Funding Model
Research shows that it costs more to educate some students, including students living in poverty, English-language learners, and students with disabilities. Recognizing this need, some districts have adopted a student-centered funding model, which adjusts the funding amount based on the demographics of individual students and schools, and more closely aligns funding to their unique needs. Flexible funding enables schools with more challenging populations to gain access to more resources so they can take needed steps such as reducing class size, hiring more experienced and effective teachers, and implementing other programs and services to support students with greater needs.
Although switching to this funding model does require an infusion of new dollars -- to support the added costs associated with educating certain groups of students without reducing funds to schools with smaller at-risk populations -- many districts have already explored or are using this option, including districts in Denver, New York City, Oakland and San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, Baltimore, Hartford, Cincinnati, and the state of Hawaii, which has only one school district.
Roberta Furger is a contributing writer for Edutopia.
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Retention Research: Studies About Keeping Kids in School
The following reports provide valuable insight into the causes of and solutions for the dropout crisis plaguing many of our schools and communities:
Credit: Wesley Bedrosian
By analyzing a unique collection of both city and school district data sets over multiple years, researchers Ruth Curran Neild and Robert Balfanz were able to identify key characteristics of students most at risk for dropping out of school. The report describes the project and discusses the factors, such as grades and attendance, that are identified as predictive of high-risk students.
This 2006 report, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is based on interviews with young men and women, ages 16 - 25, who dropped out of high school. The findings debunk some of the commonly held myths about why students decide to drop out of school. (For example, a majority of the young people who were interviewed had at least a C average when they dropped out, and 47 percent reported that they dropped out because school was not interesting.) Embedded in these insights are useful strategies for addressing the crisis.
This 2010 report, published by the nonprofit education and social policy research organization MDRC, takes a close look at New York City’s 123 "small schools of choice," or SSCs. These schools are open to students at all levels of academic achievement, located in disadvantaged communities, and emphasize strong relationships between students and faculty. So far, they’ve also been successful at raising graduation rates.
Drawing on drop-out crisis research at the national level, as well as author Robert Balfanz's decade-long experience working with middle and high schools that serve low-income students, this report provides a unique guide to tackling the issue locally. It begins with strategies for developing a deep understanding of local needs and then guides readers step by step through the creation of a comprehensive plan to assist students inside and outside of school.
This 2011 annual update on a November 2010 report by Civic Enterprises, The Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, and America's Promise Alliance takes a look at the big picture. It is still grim, but getting less so: For instance, the number of high schools that qualify as "dropout factories" (schools that graduate 60 percent or less of their students) has declined from 2,007 in 2002 to 1,634 in 2009. The report compares current data with national goals and explores best practices through several in-depth case studies of struggling school districts.
Another report from Civic Enterprises and The Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, published in November 2011, asks how effective early intervention can be to prevent dropouts and build graduation rates. Early Warning Indicator and Intervention Systems (EWS) represent a collaborative approach by educators, administrators, parents, and communities to identify and support students at risk of not graduating. The report investigates the most successful EWS through case studies in eastern Missouri, Chicago, and Philadelphia, among others.
Last updated: 01/03/2012 by Sara Bernard
- Communicate. ...
- Talk to them about career realities. ...
- Don't pressure them to do too much. ...
- Stay in touch with the school. ...
- Be supportive and involved. ...
- Encourage a break, rather than quitting. ...
- Consider a different school. ...
- Consider a gap year.
You can impact the dropout rate by providing alternatives—dual enrollment, academic learning experiences, night school, and career academy schools—students can take to graduate.What types of intervention programs are effective in preventing student drop out? ›
- Alternative Schooling.
- After-School/Out-of-School Opportunities.
Reasons Why High Schoolers Drop Out
According to a study by Dalton, Glennie, Ingels, and Wirt, as cited by the National Dropout Prevention Center, the three main categories of reasons students drop out are school-related, family-related, and employment-related. This section will delve into each of these categories.
Many students leave college because they couldn't find a healthy school-work-life balance. The time spent on class lectures, projects, tests and studying prove to be too much. College is a multiyear commitment, and many students drop out because they just don't have that kind of time to complete their degrees.What is dropout used to reduce? ›
Dropout layers have been the go-to method to reduce the overfitting of neural networks. It is the underworld king of regularisation in the modern era of deep learning. In this era of deep learning, almost every data scientist must have used the dropout layer at some moment in their career of building neural networks.How do you deal with dropping out? ›
- Find an internship. ...
- Volunteer. ...
- Start an entry-level job. ...
- Take classes. ...
- Reflect on your positive experiences. ...
- Talk to others who chose the same path. ...
- Seek the help of a career counselor. ...
- Make a plan.
- Step 1: Define the outcome. ...
- Step 2: Carefully plan your intervention. ...
- Step 3: Start small. ...
- Step 4: Scale up your intervention. ...
- Step 5: Make sure you're monitoring progress. ...
- Step 6: Share best practice!
- Behavioural Interventions. ...
- Collaborative Interventions. ...
- One-to-One Interventions. ...
- Classroom-Based Interventions. ...
- Social, Emotional and Wellbeing Interventions. ...
- Peer Tutoring. ...
- Metacognition and Self-Regulation. ...
- Vaccines. ...
- Nutritional interventions. ...
- Maternal and neonatal interventions. ...
- Education and behaviour change. ...
- Environmental alterations. ...
- Vector and intermediate host control. ...
- Drugs for the prevention of disease. ...
- Injury prevention.
I have to drop out of school because I don't have any money. Why did Maria drop out of school last semester? Brandon is going to drop out of school to travel for a year.
Once you decide to quit high school, your only choice is to apply for the GED. However, adult high school completion gives you a chance at a do-over. You benefit from an adult version of the education that lets you present a high school diploma to prospective employers or institutions of higher learning.What are the consequences of dropping out of high school? ›
A driver's license, or learner's permit, may be revoked, and an employment certificate revoked or denied, if a student drops out. Over 25 years to 30 years, a dropout student can cost a community as much as $500,000 in public assistance, health care, and incarceration costs.What are the two biggest causes of students dropping out? ›
Academic difficulties and the family's economic needs are two of the most common reasons kids drop out of school.How do you stop students from leaving the classroom? ›
Make sure the classroom door is always closed and seat the student as far away from the door as possible. To prevent her from leaving, especially during unstructured activities, position yourself near the door as much as possible. Ask the other children to alert you if a student leaves the classroom.How can we prevent falls in school? ›
Avoid falls at school
- Clean up spills promptly. ...
- Report hazards. ...
- Hold others responsible for adherence to safety policies.
In four-year institutions, 56% of students tend to drop out after six years (What to Become, 2021). Students aged between 24-29 are most likely to drop out of four-year colleges, as 52.5% of them have already left without a degree (What to Become, 2021).What factors contribute to school dropout? ›
School factors can include absenteeism, difficulty keeping up with schoolwork, suspension/expulsion, and dislike of school. Family factors that can impact school dropout include low socioeconomic status, low education level of parents, family disruption, and siblings who have dropped out of school.Which student is most likely to drop out of school? ›
Based on six years of data, men have an average dropout rate four percentage points higher than women. American Indian/Alaska Native, Black, and Pacific Islander first-year students have higher dropout rates than their Hispanic, white, and Asian peers.Do students regret dropping out? ›
WASHINGTON -- Most students who drop out of high school in the United States admit they made a mistake by quitting and some say they might have stayed if classes were more challenging, according to a report released today.
National data show that students from low-income families are 2.4 times more likely to drop out of school than are children from middle- income families, and 10.5 times more likely than students from high-income families.
Dropout rates particularly correlate with high poverty rates, poor school attendance, poor academic performance, grade retention (i.e., being held back), and disengagement from school (Hammond, Linton, Smink & Drew, 2007).What is the best value for dropout? ›
A good value for dropout in a hidden layer is between 0.5 and 0.8. Input layers use a larger dropout rate, such as of 0.8.What are the factors influencing the dropout rate? ›
The findings reveal that personal economic factors, academic satisfaction, academic performance, and family economics are the most influential.What are the four types of dropouts? ›
The results led to a 4-type solution: Quiet, Disengaged, Low-Achiever, and Maladjusted dropouts.Can dropouts be successful? ›
Do Successful High School Dropouts Really Exist? Yes. In fact, some of the most successful people in the world never graduated from high school. And for every famous dropout, many other dropouts exist who quietly lead prosperous and fulfilling lives.What are the negative effects of dropping out? ›
The High School Dropout Age
There are many negative effects caused by dropping out of high-school. Some of these effects include dropouts being more likely to become delinquents, more likely to have a lower income, and more likely to be leading an unhealthy life.
She was injured in the first round and had to drop out. drop out of: Too many students drop out of college after only one year. He decided to drop out and spend his life travelling.What are the 9 strategies of crisis intervention? ›
James and Gilliland outline the nine crisis intervention strategies in their book Crisis Intervention Strategies (creating awareness, allowing catharsis, providing support, promoting expansion, emphasizing focus, providing guidance, promoting mobilization, implementing order and providing protection), which are ...What are 4 quick intervention strategies? ›
- Give plenty of feedback. ...
- Continually monitor progress. ...
- Clarify your objectives. ...
- Direct instruction. ...
- Have students rephrase your lesson. ...
- Make sure those kids reflect.
The marketing mix of the 7Ps (i.e., product, price, place, promotion, packaging, positioning, and people) was applied to intervention recruitment.What are positive intervention strategies? ›
Positive behavior intervention strategies include designing routines, implementing silent signals, assigning tasks, and setting expectations. These strategies help encourage positive behaviors from individuals while simultaneously suppressing negative behaviors.What is an intervention plan for students? ›
An intervention plan is a blueprint for helping a student build specific skills or reach a goal. In other words, it's an action plan. In general, intervention plans include a goal, intervention strategy, timeline, and progress monitoring method.What are Big 5 interventions? ›
The Big Five refers to Phonological Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. Together, these are the necessary components of quality, comprehensive reading instruction.What are the four 4 goals of crisis intervention? ›
Identifying the main problems, including what precipitated the crisis. Reducing the intensity of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors related to the crisis. Fostering the return of pre-crisis functioning. Teaching emotional self-regulation.What are the 3 levels of intervention? ›
- Tier 1: The whole class.
- Tier 2: Small group interventions.
- Tier 3: Intensive interventions.
- Calm: to decrease the emotional, behavioral, and. mental intensity of a situation.
- Assess: to determine the most appropriate. response as presented by the facts.
- Facilitate: to promote the most appropriate. resolution based on an assessment of the facts.
Verb Be careful not to drop the chair on your foot. She dropped the apple core into the trash can. They dropped bombs on the city. He dropped the vase and it shattered into pieces.What are two sentences for drop? ›
drop verb (LET FALL)
He dropped the bag and all the apples fell out. He dropped his cigarette and burnt a hole in his jacket. He dropped his spoon with a clatter. She was worried that she'd drop the child.
He left home after falling out with his parents. She'd fallen out with her boyfriend over his ex-girlfriend.
Adult Education Programs
Another way to get back on track after dropping out of high school is to enroll in an adult education program like this. These programs vary in focus and typically provide students with a supportive environment that includes other people who are in the same boat, so to speak.
- Travel Abroad. Take a year off to travel to a foreign country. ...
- Get a Job. ...
- Start a Business. ...
- Learn a Trade. ...
- Get an Internship or Apprenticeship. ...
- Take Adult Education Classes. ...
- Earn a Vocational or Career Training Certificate. ...
- Additional Resources:
Staying in school allows you to hone and perfect basic skills. Being able to complete your education not only shows your comprehension of communication, math and problem-solving skills, but also shows potential employers that you are capable of sticking with a job until it is done.Why are so many students dropping out of high school? ›
The top three school-related reasons high school students drop out of school are they (1) missed too many school days (43.5%), (2) they thought it would be easier to get a general education diploma (40.5%), and (3) they were getting poor grades or failing school (38%) (National Dropout Prevention Center, n.d.).What triggers a high school student to suddenly drop out? ›
In fact, most occur away from school and can involve family members (divorcing parents, for example), conflicts with peers, work issues (being laid off), health issues (a car accident) and legal issues. Previous studies of high-school dropouts have concentrated on individual triggers, such as teen pregnancy.What successful people dropped out of high school? ›
You won't believe some of the people on this list of successful high school and college dropouts. Can dropouts from high school and college become successful contributors to society? People like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, and MGM co-founder Marcus Lowe are prime examples of successful people.What are the most important factors associated with students dropping out of school? ›
- High-risk peer group.
- High-risk social behavior.
- Highly socially active outside of school.
Academic risk factors refer to the students' performance in school and are highly related to school level problems. These factors include absenteeism, grade retention, special education placement, low performance and grades, and low educational expectations.What are the factors of dropping out of high school? ›
School factors can include absenteeism, difficulty keeping up with schoolwork, suspension/expulsion, and dislike of school. Family factors that can impact school dropout include low socioeconomic status, low education level of parents, family disruption, and siblings who have dropped out of school.What is a dropout prevention program? ›
Programs and services that provide student support, train staff, and improve school climate to prevent students from dropping out of school and to recover those who have left and help them complete their education.
Many students leave college because they couldn't find a healthy school-work-life balance. The time spent on class lectures, projects, tests and studying prove to be too much. College is a multiyear commitment, and many students drop out because they just don't have that kind of time to complete their degrees.What are the two most common reasons students drop out before finishing college? ›
While financial issues are probably the most common reason for dropping out of college, every student has their own reasons. Some unfortunately have family issues, a lack of support, or unexpected medical problems that are beyond their control.What problems do high school dropouts face? ›
Dropouts face extremely bleak economic and social prospects. Compared to high school graduates, they are less likely find a job and earn a living wage, and more likely to be poor and to suffer from a variety of adverse health outcomes (Rumberger, 2011).Why is school dropout such an important problem? ›
Dropout rates particularly correlate with high poverty rates, poor school attendance, poor academic performance, grade retention (i.e., being held back), and disengagement from school (Hammond, Linton, Smink & Drew, 2007).What are the consequences of dropping out? ›
A driver's license, or learner's permit, may be revoked, and an employment certificate revoked or denied, if a student drops out. Over 25 years to 30 years, a dropout student can cost a community as much as $500,000 in public assistance, health care, and incarceration costs.Should the dropout age be raised? ›
A task force put together by the National Conference of State Legislatures on preventing school dropouts in January 2011 said that “evidence suggests that raising the maximum compulsory school age above 16 curtails dropout rates and produces other positive results.”What is treatment dropout? ›
Treatment dropout was defined as the percentage of patients who began treatment, but according to the author(s) dropped out prematurely, thus utilizing the author(s)' definition.Does dropout help with training? ›
Dropout is a regularization technique for reducing overfitting in neural networks by preventing complex co-adaptations on training data. It is a very efficient way of performing model averaging with neural networks. The term "dropout" refers to dropping out units (both hidden and visible) in a neural network.