RSCH 8250 Literature Review on School Dropout

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Literature Review on School Dropout




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Literature Review on School Dropout

The literature review examined literature available on the problem of School drop out in the United States and what can be done to halt this downward spiral. The literature is organized into these sections: understanding high school dropout, the reasons for drop out and who is dropping out, effects and what can be done about it.

Dropout rates are at an all-time high though researchers do not have consensus on the method to use to calculate the drop out but what is clear is that in agreement is that approximately every nine seconds a student decides to permanently leave high school prior to graduation (Children’s Defense Fund, 2002).

There has been renewed interest in finding out what causes school drop put and what the possible effects might be but often times the focus tends to be concentrated on the dropout rates which is like scratching on the face rather than dig deep. Though changes have been made in the education sector with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).There is an increased attention on the need to keep students in school and to have as many of them as possible graduating (Tyler & Lofstrom, 2009).

According to the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) (2011) state that about 1.3 Million students drop out of high school every year and majority of them are students of color. This is an important concern because these children who are dropping out of school have a diminished chance of making meaningful contribution to the economy and the welfare of the nation.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)(2011) about 3.4% of students who enrolled in high school in October 2008 had dropped out by October 2009.What is more intriguing is that there is a very big connection between the level of income and the dropout. Students from low-income households are more likely to drop out of school and that means that the vicious cycle of poverty cannot be broken. Some schools in low income neighborhoods have become ‘dropout factories’ graduating less that 60% of their students each year. Most of these schools are in poor neighborhoods where there are many social problems such as crime, unemployment.

According to Gleason & Dynarski (2002) there is no single factors that leads to school dropout but there is a combination of factors that lead to a student not graduating because of leaving school early. The factors can be divided into four categories: personal factors such as attitude of students, their families, communities where students come from and the nature of the schools

Jordan et al.,(1994) looks at some of the pull factors that leads to school drop outs and of the main factor is the school environment . Students who drop out of school are likely to be disengaged and feel less comfortable and at home at school. This could be caused by the perception that life is easy out of school and this tends to push them out and later leads to drop out.

Students who are struggling with school work by scoring very low grades are the most likely to abandon school before graduation. This article indicate that school environment plays a key role in determining if a student will complete school or not that why school needs to improve and create an environment where even weak students will feel they are needed and they are being helped to improve in their academic performance.

According to Hernandez (2011) school dropout has relation to the demographic environment where children come from. For instance children from low income communities and families are more likely to drop out of school. Students whose older siblings have dropped out of high school are more likely to drop out of high school at higher rates compared to those who don’t have brother who dropped out.

As Tyler & Lofstrom (2009) pointed out it is important to understand what and who is dropping out of school. It is common practice to generalize like most papers have done but to understand who is dropping out of school might help in designing intervention programs as it happened in the state of Nevada with average high school graduation rate of about 51.3% between the years 2007-2008.

Another great group that is likely to drop out of school includes students who are problematic and have discipline issues with the school administration (Hickman, 2006).The root of these behavioral problems in most cases emanates from their families. Parents who don’t train their children well leads to their children having antisocial progression behavior problems. This leads to punishment by teachers and rejection by their peers and eventually these students with behavior problems become detached from school and fall off along the way.

There are both societal and personal consequences for dropping out of school and they can be very costly for the dropouts. According to Rumberger (1987) high school dropout receive a relatively less salary than those who graduated from high school. They are also more likely to engage in criminal and illegal activities to get a living.

Some become dependent on social welfare. High school dropouts also have a limited chance of securing a good job. Getting a job even for high school graduates is hard enough in this country but it is even harder for those who didn’t graduate from high school.

Some intervention measures that can be taken to prevent this trend is to identify students who are at the greatest risk of dropping out. According to Carver and Lewis (2011) those student include those are truant, chronic absentees, low academic performers and those who have problems with school due to their behavior that warrants either suspension or expulsion from school. It is this group of students that need to be helped so that they can graduate from high school. This student can be assisted by both traditional and non-traditional support programs.

Some traditional programs might include coaching, summer schools while the non-traditional programs such as partnerships between schools and other stakeholders to assist such students. Partnerships with communities, churches and health care givers can assist by giving the problem a multispectral approach.

It is also important to have in mind that there have been so many strategies to contain this problem but with very little results to show for it perhaps due to the wrong approach that only seeks to address the symptoms and not the real problem (Hickman, 2006).The best way to deal with this problem is to put much more emphasis on early child hood education. That is because a child who will eventually drop out of school begins showing signs at an early age, as early as third grade and that is why there is need to make this schools as welcoming as possible. Students should be made to feel that they belong so that they can be engaged and committed to school.

The construct that this research intends to look at is the relationship between early childhood education and high school dropout. A lot of research has been concentrated on what leads to high school drop and what can be done about but often times that doesn’t help in addressing the real problem.

An estimated 1.3 Million Kids are dropping out every year that tells you not much has been done to halt the trend and perhaps thinking outside the box a bit in this matter would help to shed some light so that proper intervention measures can be designed (AEE, 2011).

This paper will be developed by data that will be collected from online databases such as: academic search premier, teacher preference center and ERIC. The research will focus on searching why students drop out school, who is dropping out, effects of dropping out and what can be done to halt the trend. The information from this articles will help to find out what has already been done. What has worked and what can be done.

A purposeful random sampling will also be done where students will be selected randomly from a given cohort. A cohort is a group of students who kindergarten and their progress is tracked down to the point of graduation or where they drop out of school. This students both the ones who graduate and those drop out will be those who joined school at the same time, same year (same cohort). This will give indications as to why some graduated while other fell off along the way. Calculations will be made comparing the performance of the drop outs with those who graduated and the other factors such as the discipline and behavior of the two groups.


Alliance for Excellent Education (2011). The high cost of high school dropouts: What the nation pays for inadequate high schools. Retrieved from

Carver, P., & Lewis, L. (2011). Dropout prevention services and programs in public school districts: 2010-2011. First Look. NCES 2011-037. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED524175)

Children’s Defense Fund (2002). Moments in the lives of America’s children. Available at

Creswell, J.W. (2009). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed methods

approaches (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Hickman, G. P., & Garvey, I. (2006). Analyses of academic achievement and school behavior

problems as indices of program effectiveness among at-risk adolescents enrolled in a youth- based mentoring program. Journal of At-Risk Issues, 12(1), 1-15.

Jordan, W., Lara, J., & Mcpartland, J. (1994). Exploring the complexity of early dropout causal structures. PsycEXTRA Dataset.

Rumberger, R. (1987). High School Dropouts: A Review of Issues and Evidence. Review of Educational Research, 101-121.

Tyler, J. H., & Lofstrom, M. (2009). Finishing high school: Alternative pathways and dropout recovery. The Future of Children, 19(1), 77-103. doi:10.1353/foc.0.0019

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