Dropout Prevention

Earning a high school diploma is foundational for the futures of all students. Many aspects of a productive, meaningful life are dependent on employment and better employment outcomes are connected to higher levels of education.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the unemployment rate of individuals who have not earned a high school diploma is 5.4% above the average rate of unemployment for persons age 25 and older who earn full-time wages or salaries.  See the BLS chart link for more information on unemployment rates and earnings by levels of education. This data reflects statistics for all working individuals 25 years old and over (Unemployment Rates and Earnings by Educational Attainment).

Unemployment statistics become even more concerning when looking at the 2019 employment analysis of individuals with disabilities. Individuals with a disability who do not have a high school diploma are more likely to be unemployed than those individuals with disabilities who have a bachelor's degree or higher. Ensuring that students with disabilities remain engaged in high school through graduation is a critical step toward postsecondary education, increased employment earnings and, ultimately, a more integrated and satisfying life.

To help schools adopt effective dropout prevention strategies, the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities (NDPC-SD) has developed a Dropout Prevention Intervention Framework which has five phases and are listed as follows:
  • Phase 1: Develop State and Local Leadership Teams
  • Phase 2: Analyze Data
  • Phase 3: Identify Target Areas for Intervention
  • Phase 4: Develop Improvement Plan
  • Phase 5: Implement, Monitor & Evaluate

Internal Resources

Dropout Prevention Flowchart
The Dropout Prevention Flowchart assists school personnel to identify students who have dropped out of school in order to support and encourage them to return to school and resume working toward earning their standard diploma. Use the flowchart to determine where a student is on the dropout prevention flowchart. Find the possible next steps to restore a graduation pathway and retrieval tips.

Project 10 - Using School-level Data to Increase Graduation Success of Students with Disabilities: An Early Warning System (EWS)
This Project 10 training resource provides details about how schools and districts can use EWS data to promote timely graduation and post-school success.

Project 10 - It’s T.I.M.E. for Dynamic Dropout Prevention: Scaling Up Student Engagement and School Climate for Student Success 
Reviews federal uniform graduation and dropout rate calculations, explain strategies to increase student engagement that result in decreased dropout rates (e.g., early warning systems [EWS]) and describe dropout withdrawal codes including helpful hints on locating and re-engaging students who have dropped out. The training also includes a Student Engagement Best Practice Checklist which will assist districts to identify student engagement strategies to implement.

External Resources

Check and Connect
Check & Connect is a model of sustained intervention for promoting students' engagement with school and learning that is structured to maximize personal contact and opportunities to build trusting relationships. Student levels of engagement (such as attendance, grades, suspensions) are "checked" regularly and used to guide the monitors' efforts to increase and maintain students' "connection" with school.

Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Practice Guide: Dropout Prevention
This guide is designed with educators, administrators, and policymakers in mind as it provides recommendations that focus on reducing high school dropout rates. Strategies presented include identifying and advocating for at-risk students, implementing programs to improve behavior and social skills and keeping students engaged in the school environment.

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network
This resource contains information and resources on dropout prevention for State and Local Education Agencies, practitioners, parents, students, and community partners including strategies, research, model programs, conferences, statistics, and more.

National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities
Provides information, guidance, and resources for State and Local Education Agencies, parents, and students in order to improve student outcomes by collaborating, developing knowledge, disseminating information, and providing technical assistance.