The school dropout: a case study of individual school dropouts which indentifies the "at risk" variables which contribute to the development of a profile of the early school leaver

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Crawford, Jon
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The problem of the high school dropout has been a major societal concern for many years. Given the present day magnitude of this problem from both an economic and humanistic perspective, the purpose of this study was to identify the factors which may place a student at risk with regard to successfully completing high school and receiving a diploma. There were five stages in this identification process. Initially, the data regarding the student dropout rates at a comprehensive high school were gathered over a five-year time period (1976-77 through 1980-81). Second, the literature was reviewed to determine the causal factors in situations where students terminated their school enrollment prior to receiving a high school diploma. The third phase of this investigation involved drawing a random sample of fifty male and fifty female student dropouts from a population of four hundred eighty (480). Next, a structured interview was constructed and administered to the first twenty (ten male, ten female) dropouts who provided an informed consent to participate in the research project. The cumulative folder for each student was also studied to gather additional school history information (e.g., attendance patterns, grades, performance on standardized tests). Finally, the data gathered from both the structured interviews and cumulative folders were compiled in order to facilitate the identification of common variables and observable trends or patterns;The findings of the study appeared to the investigator to warrant the following conclusions regarding the causal factors which contribute to the dropout phenomena at the high school level. When students drop out of school prior to graduation, this final act is the culmination of an identifiable history of school failures. Individual variables do not act in isolation to either "prevent" or "cause" a student to drop out of school. In most cases singular "at risk" variables began to accumulate prior to the student's enrolling in school (e.g., educational level of parents, established pattern of sibling school failure, non-participation in a pre-school program). As the student entered and progressed through the school program, additional variables evidenced themselves (e.g., death or divorce of biological parent, poor self-image, lack of parental support of school success). Typically the "at risk" variables continue to accrue during junior high school and high school (e.g., suspension from school, truancy, poor academic grades). The final outcome of this pattern of failure is the student deciding to dropout of school.

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Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 1986