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 3.7% above the average rate of unemployment for persons age 25 and older who earn full-time wages or salaries. In addition, an individual without a high school diploma, on average, earns 57% of the median weekly wage earner. 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, 2016).

Unemployment statistics become even more concerning when looking at the 2016 employment analysis of individuals with disabilities. Individuals with a disability who do not have a high school diploma have unemployment rates that are more than double the unemployment rates of 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.
(https://www.bls.gov/news.release/ disabl.t01.htm#cps_ad_nrt01.f.1)

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

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.

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.

Early Warning System (EWS) Tool
Using readily available student data, this MS Excel-based program identifies early warning signs of students who may be at risk of dropping out of high school. In addition to the tool, implementation and technical manuals, as well as other resources, are provided.

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.

A Literature Map of Dropout Prevention Interventions for Students with Disabilities (pdf)
This research synthesis, announced by the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities, represents the most up-to-date review of dropout interventions for students with disabilities. The authors conducted an extensive search of the literature to find articles that described school completion interventions that yielded positive outcomes for students with disabilities. Of 544 potential studies, 19 studies met the inclusion criteria: three experimental, one quasi-experimental, five qualitative, five mixed methods, four correlational, and one descriptive. The most commonly implemented interventions involved multiple components involving mentoring, family outreach, academic support, attendance monitoring, additional support services, and students' participation in school-related activities. Several studies also targeted students' specific disability-related needs, such as self-determination skills, social skills, and vocational skills. Overall, the interventions were aligned with recommendations made by the Institute of Education Sciences as effective interventions for general education students (Dynarski, et al., 2008).

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.