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Dropout Prevention for Students with Disabilities


The National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities (NDPC-SD) has developed a number of resources for state and local education agencies that want to increase graduation rates and decrease dropout rates of students with disabilities. Two of these resources are the NDPC-SD Dropout Prevention Intervention Framework and the NDPC-SD Data Probes Worksheet.

The Dropout Prevention Intervention Framework has six Phases which are outlined below. 

Phase 1: Develop State and Local Leadership Teams
    ·  Establish leadership and design team
    ·  Identify cohort districts/schools
    ·  Identify core teams for training
    ·  Train teams in framework and modules 1-6
    ·  Train teams in rollout strategies

Phase 2: Analyze Data
    ·  District/School demographics
    ·  District and school infrastructure
    ·  Current initiatives and partnerships
    ·  Student performance (attendance, graduation, dropout, course completion, discipline
    ·  Assessment, curriculum, and instructional systems
    ·  Professional development (dropout prevention/intervention recovery/re-entry
    ·  Relevant policies and procedures (attendance, discipline, promotion/retention,

Phase 3: Identify Target Areas for Intervention
    ·  School climate
    ·  Attendance and truancy prevention
    ·  Behavior (universal, classroom, targeted, tertiary management and support)
    ·  Academic content and instruction (reading, writing, math, science)
    ·  Family engagement
    ·  Student engagement

Phase 4: Develop Improvement Plan
    ·  Select evidence-based practices (e.g., Check & Connect, Positive Behavior Support,
            Cognitive Behavior Interventions, Content Enhancements)
    ·  Determine level of intensity (universal, selected, targeted)
    ·  Contextualize to setting
    ·  Establish timelines
    ·  Draft action plan

Phase 5: Implement, Monitor, & Evaluate
   ·  Conduct baseline measures
    ·  Train additional staff for rollout
    ·  Implement strategies: on-site coaching, consultation & feedback, progress monitoring,
            fidelity checks
    ·  Measure results
    ·  Evaluate outcomes
    ·  Celebrate success!
    ·  Disseminate

The Data Probes Worksheet helps schools collect multiple years of student data and information in order to determine appropriate school-based interventions. Questions are provided to guide the analysis of data and information for
    ·  Enrollment        
  ·  Graduation rate
    ·  Dropout
    ·  Academic engagement
    ·  Grade retention
    ·  Attendance
    ·  Discipline
    ·  Parental engagement
    ·  School climate
    ·  District and school policies
    ·  Professional preparation
    ·  Transition-related activities
    ·  Post-school outcomes     


Check out the December 2015 Topical Brief on Dropout Prevention and Mentoring, available at:

Recent Publications

A Literature Map of Dropout Prevention Interventions for Students with Disabilities (April 2014)
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. 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 student's' specific disability-related needs, such as self-determination skills, social skills, and vocational skills.

Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring (September 2015)
This publication, developed by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, details research-informed and practitioner-approved Standards for creating and sustaining quality youth mentoring programs and consequently, impactful mentoring relationships. The six evidence-based Standards are intended to be applicable across almost every type of youth mentoring program. Each Standard includes Benchmarks to ensure the safety and effectiveness of mentoring relationships, as well as Enhancements that may be promising, innovative and useful for programs. Additionally, a Program Planning and Management section offers recommendations for designing, building, and strengthening mentoring programs and services.  

Why Students Drop Out
Doll, Eslami, and Walters (2013) present data from seven nationally representative studies (spanning more than 50 years) regarding reasons students drop out of high school. Excerpts are presented in tables on this webpage as well as a link to the original article, “Understanding Why Students Drop Out of High School, According to Their Own Reports  



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.

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network
Contains information and resources ondropout 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. 

NDPC-SD Resources for Local Education Agencies
This web page contains links to information on graduation rate, dropout prevention including the Dropout Prevention Intervention Framework and Data Probes Worksheet, evidence-based practices, research syntheses, presentations and more. 

National Transition Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) Data Analysis and Use
Collecting, analyzing, and using data in meaningful ways at the student level are important aspects of Transition Planning and a critical component of efforts to increase the likelihood of Graduation. The resources located in this area of NTACT’s website are focused on systems level (schools, districts, community agencies, councils, state agencies) analysis and use of data to improve the quality of transition education and services.

Core Data Tools for Dropout Prevention
The National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities originally developed a set of Excel-based data tools to help districts and schools organize, examine, analyze, and share their data that impact graduation and dropout rates. NTACT will continue to update and provide technical assistance for use of these tools, which can support a school team’s work carrying out a root cause analysis of the factors that impact school completion rates. They also can inform the development and evaluation of a local intervention plan.
Discussion Guide for the Dropout Data Tools


National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities. (n.d.). NDPC-SD dropout prevention intervention framework. Clemson, SC: Author. Available at

National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities. (2011). NDPC-SD data probes worksheet. Clemson, SC: Author. Available at




The development of this website was funded by the University of South Florida St. Petersburg
through a grant by the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services,
Florida Department of Education (2010 - 2011, 291-2621A-1C008).

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