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The field and practice of education has reached a tipping point in the current political and economic climate of the United States. In addition to federal funds evaporating since the economic recession of 2008, state budgets have also been cutting expenditures in the public sector with possible threats to employment in police departments, fire departments, state and social workers, as well as public educators and administrators. To give this climate an extended context, US News & World Report published an article stating that the 2008 results from the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS), the largest international student achievement assessment, indicated that the United States is still falling behind Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan in its international ranking in education in areas such as math and science (US News & World Report, 2008). Outside of the national and domestic arena, since 2003 the US has become engrossed in a conflict in the Middle East that has drained funds from numerous federal government and state programs as well as led to destabilization in other regions of the East as well as around the world. Data from the National Priorities Project (NPP), an organization whose purpose is to make federal budget data publicly available, published figures in April 2009 showing that the median income family living in Los Angeles paid $2,994 in federal income taxes in 2008, of which nearly 71% has been spent on military funding, health expenses, as well repaying interest on debt, both military and non-military. In the same study published by the NPP, education received a mere 3% of the total federal income tax revenue for the 2008 tax year for the aforementioned demographic. Since 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act has placed an enormous burden upon schools and school districts to meet unobtainable goals at the cost of students' overall learning and has also created potential for replacement and unemployment for public educators and administrators. Statistics from an article published in the Boston Globe show that at the time of publication in 2004, the conservative estimated budget appropriations for the Iraq conflict would reach $216 billion, an amount that is almost four times the budget of the Education Department, double the amount the General Accounting Office estimated in the 1990s would be required to repair American schools, and enough money to fully fund No Child Left Behind nearly twenty-four times over. These figures should lead one to believe that the national priorities of the United States have drifted away from those of previous generations, whose achievements can be seen in the desegregation of schools following Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. This fact must have been clearly present in President Lyndon B. Johnson's mind when he proclaimed in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement that, "I do not want to see all those hopes and all those dreams of so many people for so many years now drowned in the wasteful ravages of cruel wars." Despite the lessons of past generations, the United States is facing another crisis of youth, one that has been growing throughout the twentieth-century and has more than overflowed into the dawn of the twenty-first century. The crisis educators are facing today is not one of segregation, but rather a drought of motivation and a resurgence of apathy.
Statement of the Problem
In the wake of the creation of a global market economy and the vast expansion of information technology in the last 20 years, students have more resources and interconnections that any previous generation of Americans. However, despite trends in long-term demographics that shows a decline in the number of high school dropouts each year, since 1970 statistics on the state level have revealed in increase in the amount of students who do not complete high school (Rumberger, 1987). More recently than 1970, according to the Current Population Survey conducted by the Bureau of Census, nearly 682,000 high school students dropped out during the 1985-1986 academic school year. This figure equates to an average dropout rate of 3,789 adolescents every day when based upon a 180-day school calendar year (Paulu, 1987). Since 1990, approximately 20% of all young adults ranging in age from 16-24 years old have been classified as dropouts, defined as neither being enrolled in school nor having graduated from high school (McMillen et al., 1993). These statistics paint a grim and gruesome picture for the future of United States and the futures of its youth; however, other countries have also experienced such drops in enrollment and engagement in public and private education including Canada, whose dropout rates during the same period in the 1990s are slightly above rates in the United States and have even reached 25% to 36% at its highest peak in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec (Statistics Canada, 1995). In more current news, The Associated Press published an article in 2007 that stated more than one in ten high schools in the United States can be considered to be a "dropout factory," a term coined by Bob Balfanz of John Hopkins University and is defined as a high school where the graduation rate of incoming freshmen four years later is less than 60%. Given the withstanding financial and budgetary crisis facing the United States and the documented history of dropout rates, one would imagine that the future of education in America is a bleak one at best. As such, this preexisting downward trend in education is the focal point of the following literature review, however, a more specific definition of its intent is a necessity.
Purpose of the Literature Review
As the United States, as well as other developed nations around the world, approaches this event horizon in education, a consensus needs to be established prior to the development of any specific programs or pedagogy can be implemented. The first step in navigating the problem of the ever-increasing dropout rate is to further clarify and define the term "dropout." However, as the research will indicate, creating a definition of a dropout is much harder than one would assume. The second section of this literature review, and the most expansive, is an analysis of the predictors and indicators for which students are at-risk for becoming a dropouts. These predicating factors for dropping out encompass an entire spectrum of socio-economic, political, and cultural categories and while many studies contend to have found the most influential factors for dropping out, it is impossible to single out any category as the sole culprit. The last, and hopefully, most applicable segment of the literature review investigates existing and possibly programs and strategies for reducing the dropout rate and, if given the chance for implementation, could serve as the most immediate and solution-focused section of this literature review. Regardless of any problem or social enigma, one must look at the importance of said problem in order to determine its priority among other pressing issues in the realm of education.
Importance of the Literature Review
While the dropout crisis seems to be an imminent and impending crisis, the ramification of which can already be seen without our current society and within published research. This issue is not only one within the field and practice of education, but also throughout the greater scope of society at large. High school dropouts affect such areas as unemployment rates, social welfare, public health, and the underlying areas of federal and state budgets as well as loss within the economy. A 2003 study by Stanard showed that among the class of 2000, 56% of dropouts were unemployed, which is daunting compared to the 16% of high school graduates who were unemployed. The US Census Bureau published data that correlates with the Stanard study in that the average income for a high school dropout in 2000 earns about $12,400 a year compared to a high school graduate who earns around $21,000 annually (Campbell, 2003-2004). In addition to income and unemployment, Martin, Tobin, & Sugai found that high school dropouts are more likely to deal with health problems, be involved in criminal activity, become dependant upon welfare, unemployment, and other governmental welfare programs (2002). To further intensify these findings, the Center for Democratic Policy, Institute for Education Leadership found that high school dropouts account for 52% of welfare recipients, 85% of juvenile justice cases, as well as, and most troubling of all, 82% of the United States prison population, which evokes the adage "Build schools, not prisons" (Stanard, 2003). Hayes, Nelson, Tobin, Pearson, & Worthy affirmed in a 2002 study that high school dropouts are greatly associated with less national income, fewer revenue for governmental services, increase in demand for social services, increase activity in crime and antisocial behaviors, reduction in political participation, lack intergenerational mobility, and poorer health levels. Rumberger (1987) conveys much the same sentiment and agrees with the aforementioned research in the areas of unemployment, lower annual income earnings, dependence upon welfare, engagement in criminal activities, as well as underlying health problems. Lastly, Schorr also agrees with preexisting research by declaring that dropouts are 7.5 times more likely to become dependent upon welfare for lack of income as well as twice as likely to become unemployed and live within the governmental definitions of poverty (1988). The above research indicates that the dropout rate crisis is not simply an education problem, but rather a problem for society, economics, as well as governmental policy. However, in order to tackle any problem, regardless of its enormity, it is imperative to look at the preexisting information and previous research in order to begin piecing together a solution.
Scope of the Literature Review
During the beginning of initial research for this literature review, it became obvious that a clearly defined scope needed to be developed in order for the literature review to be not only historically-based, in order to exude the fact that this problem is not newly emerging, but also sensitive to the fact that the dropout rate crisis is currently being compounded by lack of monetary resources as well as by an educational policy that forces immediate compliance without the compensation and time with which is necessary. The earliest research utilized within this literature review that addresses the problem of high school students dropping out of school is from a 1927 study. However, this article is not representative of the broader scope of the research. The majority of research comes from articles that were published after the 1970s, with some articles from the 1980s and 1990s, but many publications emanating from 2000 to the present. This stratification of research is deliberate and intentional, as the public school system has remained predominantly the same over the past three decades, in terms of composition and administration. The justification for choosing such broad scope is to recognize that this is not a recently developed problem and has been considerably researched throughout the twentieth century, especially towards that latter half of the millennium. Due to the fact that the federal legislature of the United States drafted the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, effectively changing the landscape and practice of public education, a considerable core of research will reflect these changes and hope to establish a more modern outlook to the high school dropout rate. Research used in this literature review will be drawn from various areas of academia, including, but not limited to, university education departments, private organizations, and federal and state reporting sources. In addition to these aforementioned groups, statistics will also be taken from international sources, such as Canada and East Asian countries, in order to further contextualize the problem of high school dropout rates in order to reflect a more global view of educational, as many problem facing the American education system are also indicative of other modern, industrialized nations' educational pedagogies.
SECTION II: LITERATURE REVIEW
Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, individual states are required to report, among other statistics, the graduation rates of their students based upon race and ethnicity, socio-economic status and income level, status of disability, English proficiency, gender, as well as any students' migrant status (Christle, 2007). While the categories mentioned above seem to be encompassing and adequate for determining some kind of motivational or causal basis for defining the profile of a dropout, there are hidden discrepancies in reporting that do not allow for the clear identification of which students are more likely to continue their education and which ones will more probably dropout. The National Center of Education Statistics reported an overall national high school completion rate of 86% for students in the class of 2000 including those who received GED certificates and alternative school credentials, however, this percentage was determined by using a status method of reporting high school dropouts (NCES, 1992). In contrast to this previous statistic, Greene and Winters calculated that the graduation rate was actually at 69% for the class of 2000 using a methodology that counted students who entered high school in 1996 and the amount of those students who actually graduated four years later, not including GED certificates and alternative credentials (Greene and Winters, 2002). These two studies clearly show that there is a discrepancy in how the actual dropout rate is calculated and is indicative of many of the problems facing the education system today. These two modalities are used by different organizations in order to "stack the deck" in favor of their respective schools and organizations. Prior to any action-based programs can be developed, there are issues that need to be addressed; these problematic issues include the creation of a universal definition of a high school dropout, a single method of reporting actual graduation rates, as well as clarifying and demythologizing the predictors and indicators for potential dropouts. It is only after these three issues are addressed that educators and practitioners can begin piecing together research-based programs to decrease, and hopefully eradicate, the causes and correlates that underlie the actual decision to dropout of school. Since the purpose, importance, and scope of this literature review have already been discussed, it is time to examine how previous practice and research has lead to a faulty and unreliable definition of a high school dropout.
Definition of a High School Dropout
In education, as in war, before any battle can be fought on the battlefield, it must already be won in the minds of generals and politicians. Considering the downward slide education has experienced in the latter half of the twentieth century in terms of both budgetary funding and resource expenditures, it is no wonder that a standardized national, operational definition of a dropout does not exist (Christle, 2007). One might wonder why this is as most professions and fields of research encourage heavy standardizations and universal definitions in order level the playing field, however, in education it is beneficial to school administrators, state legislatures, and federal officials to not have a clearly defined method as it would be too apparent as to which schools are performing and which are not reaching their proficiency levels. The Phi Delta Kappa Center for Evaluation Development and Research has already made an attempt to find a clear definition of dropouts, but concluded that there exists no consensus within the field of educational at what defines a high school dropout (Frymier and Gansneder, 1989). . To further the confusion, Morrow (1987) categorized dropouts into several different phyla, which included Pushouts, Disaffiliated, Educational Mortalities, Capable Dropouts, and Stopouts. Pushouts include students that are considered undesirable individuals whose schools actively attempt to force them out of school. The Disaffiliated are students who neither bond with their school nor to other students within it; eventually they chose not to continue to be affiliated with the school or its students. Educational Mortalities are defined as students who are not academically capable of completing the requirements for graduation prior to their aging out of school. This type of dropout is especially prominent in Special Education as students are allowed academic access via district funds until the age of 22. If at that age they have neither completed a school program, nor the capability of completing such as program, they age out and are not allowed to continue their academic enrollment. Capable Dropouts are those students who possess the skills and attributes required for graduation, but are not socialized to the demands of their school or to the value of a diploma, and its importance in the real world. That last category of dropouts, Stopouts, are individuals who stop their education and leave school, but who eventually return with the same year that they temporarily exited. Each of these definitions of a dropout is accurate and no one definition or consensus has been able to encompass every type of dropout with such accuracy. In order to take action to stop the problem of student attrition, an accurate and precise definition system needs to be developed that does not lead to overgeneralization, nor lead to excessive specification. Although Morrow does describe several classifications of student attrition, other studies have also focused their attention upon trying to find a unified codification standard.
In Christle (2007), a dropout was defined as an individual who was enrolled at some time during previous school year but not enrolled at the beginning of the current school year. This study also defined a dropout as a student who has not graduated from high school, has not completed a state or district alternative education program, has not transferred to another public school or another state- or district-approved education program, has not been absent due to suspension, and is not deceased. Pallas and Verdugo's typology of a dropout defines a dropout as an individual who has stopped attending school prior to high school graduation, regardless of the whether or not that student enrolls again at another time, and is endorsed by Cairns et al. (1989), Rumberger (1995), and Ensminger et al. (1996). Despite all of these academic definitions for a high school dropout, the definition of one according to the United States General Accounting Office is a person who is neither enrolled in school nor has graduated from a high school (US General Accounting Office, 1986). However, based solely upon this definition, the dropout rate for 1994 was 10.5% of students and individuals between the ages of 16-24 were considered dropouts (NCES, 1995). At the end of the day, what is displayed above is a general lack of consensus on what is the definition of a high school dropout. Some definitions exclude students younger than a certain age or below a particular grade level, while others are broad and simple statements, whilst some attempt to create specific categorizes in which to classify dropouts with a unique status. While there exists a lack of universality in terms of definitions, there also exists a disparity in terms of the methods for reporting these dropouts.
Graduation Rate Reporting Methods
A secondary area of difficulty, which is equal to if not surpassing the creation of a universal definition of a dropout, is the method of reporting these dropouts and graduation rates. There currently exist two predominant methods for reporting graduation rates, which school and district administrators use interchangeably in order to "stack their decks" in an attempt to make their district and schools appear to be performing better than is accurate. The first method of reporting is known as the Event Method, which reports the percentage of student who left school in a particular year. The second method is known as the Status Method, which reports the percentage of students between certain ages who have left school, generally being reported over a four-year period of time. Schools tend to choose whichever method will provide them with a lower percentage of students who have dropped out. If a school were to choose the Event Method in order to report their dropout rate, it might be due to the fact that although they have a high percentage of dropouts over a four-year period, a particular year might have yielded fewer individuals who actually dropped out. If that same school is known for having a high number of individual drop outs during the school year, but those students always return the following year and complete their schooling on-time, then the school would choose to report their dropout rate using the Status Method as it would ignore the actual number per year who dropout in favor of focusing on how many of those dropped out and never returned to their schools.
In addition to school districts being able to choose their reporting method, there are other factors that complicate the matter of dropout rate reporting and muddy the educational waters. Various research studies have pinpointed loopholes and cracks in the system where students can fall through, but schools are not liable to report these events in their reported graduation rates. The actual dropout rates around the country are likely to be much higher than are currently reported, as national data does not include students who are under the age of 16 or those who are below the 10th grade level (Hayes et al., 2002). On a state level, Weis, Farrar, and Petrie (1989) also found that some states consider students as dropouts only once they have reached legal age, which means these states also do not count students below the age of 16 or the 10th grade. Another study surveyed public schools in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, and San Diego to examine these schools' definition for a dropout and found that while every school began with a coding procedure, there was, again, the lack of a universal coding procedure, with some schools not reporting dropouts until 10th grade and others reporting during 9th grade (Hammack, 1987). In addition to a cap being set on the age and grade level reported by schools, students who are convicted of criminal acts and who are consequentially incarcerated are not counted as part of the graduation rate, even though these students will most likely never complete high school (Smink and Chargel, 2004). This poverty of universality in the realms of definitions and reporting methods only makes matters worse when one is trying to create a research-based plan of action for stopping, or at least slowing, the student attrition rate. Regardless of coding procedures and accounting practices, one must look at the causal or corollary relationship between the decision to dropout of school and the many factors that lead or contribute to that student's decision to leave school.
Indicators and Predictors of a High School Dropout
Despite relentless nature versus nurture arguments in human behavioral studies, one cannot separate the student who decides to dropout of school from the environment in which he exists. Many research studies have attempted to point to a single underlying cause for students who dropout, however, overall these studies have neither generated a clear reason nor a concise justification for the decision to leave school. While some studies point to a student's socio-economic status as the biggest indicator of dropout behavior, others have determined that the student's family and cultural background is more relevant. Still, other areas of concern include disciplinary and behavioral problems, social experience and peer rejection, academic achievement and grade retention, attendance and absenteeism, and school and classroom environment. In the end, as this literature review will show, is that all of these factors exist and exude pressure upon a student to leave school, however, these are only single factors in a multifaceted continuum of disengagement. This broader and overall encompassing continuum of disengagement is what needs to be addressed in stopping the student attrition rate. Before this continuum can be acted upon to keep students in schools, its needs to be dissected into its aforementioned parts, as it is only it piecing together the parts of this puzzle that one will be able to see the extensive scope of the problem.
Socio-Economic Status (SES)
The biggest single factor that has been used as a trump card in the forum of public opinion and educational policy debates correlating to higher instances of dropout rates is the socio-economic bracket in which the student lives as well as the mean socio-economic bracket in which the school that said student attends. Despite the simple logic that a student's economic level is a decent determinant of their success rate in school, the academic research is heavily favored towards other factors. However, there exists a fair amount of research to suggest that socio-economic status does play a role in rate of which students stay in school. Research pertaining to the effect of a student's socio-economic status on their likelihood of dropout goes back prior to the 1960s. In 1958, Tesseneer and Tesseneer reviewed 20 studies pertaining to the dropout rate. Later in 1984, Steinberg, Blinde, and Chan also reviewed 12 additional studies, and while there is nearly thirty years between the two teams' studies, both research teams concluded that the socio-economic position of the students' families within the community is the single most consistently predictable characteristic that separates high school dropouts from those who graduate. Another statistic from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (2001) shows that students who come from low-income families are 2.4 times more likely to drop out of school than students from middle-class or high-income families.
In addition to researching individual family income levels, several studies have looked at this problem from a school level as opposed to an individual level, since schools are integrally linked to families and the community at large. It is rare if not absurd to see a school with a majority of students being categorized as low SES while the school and surrounding community are categorized as being of a high SES. Christle (2007) found that students who come from low SES backgrounds accounted for a significantly higher percentage of students at schools with high dropout rates than those with low dropout rates, which corroborates with a similar study. That study, conducted by The Center for Social Organization of Schools at John Hopkins University, examined contextual factors that contribute to the dropout rate of schools by identifying schools with extremely high rates of dropout and the neighborhoods, cities, and states in which these schools were located. The chosen schools were placed into two categories; those with poor promoting power and those weak promoting power, where 50% of students did not graduate 4 years after entering the school and 40% did not graduate 4 years later, respectively. The schools classified as having poor or weak promoting power constituted 2,000 of the total 10,000 schools that were examined. The study found that the strongest correlate to student dropout rate was poverty; meaning schools with poor and weak promoting power have fewer resources and fewer per-student budgetary expenditures. The study also found that in the areas where poor- and weak-promoting schools were located, the concentration of schools is such that there exists no alternative to attending these near "dropout factories." In this way, students who are robbed of resources at the schools they currently attend have no other option than to remain enrolled at such a school (Balfanz and Legters, 2004).
Despite the aforementioned evidence that a student's socio-economic level adversely affects their ability to remain enrolled in school and graduate, Frank (1990) found that the existing relationship between income level and dropout rate is not as strong as indicated in research studies once adjustments are made in order to consider the effects of other explanatory variables. This can be easily acknowledged by the fact that other variables may have a causal relationship to, or at least be a catalyst for, being classified in a low-income bracket. Such other variables include one's family and cultural background including parental education level, individual school behaviors such as achievement, engagement, and disciplinary history, as well as the school and classroom environment.
Family and Cultural Background
While a student's family and home environment display a strong correlation to student dropout rates, it is important to examine the role race/ethnicity and disability play in predisposing at-risk students to making the decision to leave school. These assertions that race and ethnicity have a strong correlation to dropout rates is backed by a study done by Leone et al. (2003), in which student ethnicity was found to have an historically strong relationship to the outcomes of students in school. Christle (2007) also demonstrates this correlation and found that the ethnicity of a school's student body is related to the dropout rate, but more specifically found that the higher the reported dropout rate at a particular school, the lower the percentage of white students who attend that school. In addition to a higher percentage of white students affecting the dropout rate of a school, Dorn (1996) found that the proportion of black students who fail to graduate from high school is twice as high as the proportion of white students who do not graduate, and that the rate of Black students failing to graduate is higher than that of Hispanic students. The Center for Social Organization of Schools at John Hopkins University found that nationwide, any school whose minority students constitute a majority of the student body is five times more likely to have a classification as a weak promoting power school than a school whose student body majority is white students. The Center for Social Organization also found that 46% of Black and 39% of Hispanic students attend schools where graduation is not the normative pattern (Balfanz and Legters, 2004). In addition to race and ethnic background, a student's classification as disabled also adversely affects their ability to meet the qualifications for graduation. Between the years of 2000 to 2001, students with disabilities had a dropout rate of 29%, ranging from as high as 53% for students with emotional disturbances to as low as 13% for student designated with cognitive disabilities (Bellis, 2003). While students with disabilities may be worthy of having its own category as a variable of the dropout rate, it can be closely related to a family's socio-economic status, but also, and more importantly, a school's student body composition, as often times schools with fewer resources and low per-capita student expenditures are not able to give these students the attention that they require in order to help them become high achievement and academically successful students. Another reason for including disabilities as part of family and cultural background as certain disorders can be genetically inherited, with the possibility that certain diseases being more prevalent in different racial backgrounds, such as the tendency to develop perfect pitch being linked with certain East-Asian pitch-based language phonemes as well the prevalence of heart disease and other coronary diseases having higher rates among African-Americans.
As race and ethnicity have been discussed, it is imperative to turn the focus to the variable subgroup of specific familial attitudes and environmental conditions that impact a student's ability to be successful in schooling. Christle (2007) found that out all surveyed participants, all school administrators and 14 out of 24 staff members at high dropout schools (HDOS) reported that the students' families had poor involvement in their schooling. Howell and Frese (1982) and Rumberger et al. (1990) also found that parental supervision and support are predictors of early student withdrawal from school after accommodations are made to control for socio-economic factors. Furthering these claims, Okey and Cusik (1995) note that many families do not value academic achievement or education in general, which might further entrench students' feelings of being unsupported. Obey and Cusik also found that these families had a history of poor achievement, multiple disciplinary problems, as well as volatile conflicts with school faculty, staff, and administrators.
Not only does parental support and supervision of student education have a role in predicting student dropout, family structure and parental education level also plays a factor in the success of students and their possibilities of graduation. Interestingly, Barrington (1989) found that by 9th grade, future dropouts were 69% less likely to live in a two-parent household whereas future graduates were 83% less likely to live in a non-divorced family. Vitaro (2001) found that socio-family adversity is a direct link in student dropout, which corroborates similar evidence from Ensminger and Slusarcick (1992), with the exception that the authors of the latter study found that poverty status and the mother's level of education is compounded with the student's characteristics to better predict the probability that the student will leave school. To further the assertion that parental education is a determinant of dropping out, Frank (1990) found that parental education level single most powerful predictor of dropout, but also showed that race and ethnicity are not significant predictors after adjustments are made for other explanatory variables. Although the aforementioned studies have found that the family background and home environment adversely impacts a students ability to remain in school and become academically successful, there are other factors that serve as important functions that occur at school and may exacerbate dropout behavior.
Disciplinary/Behavioral Problems (Suspension, Expulsion, and Severity)
Despite a student's home life and family background being an important variable in the decision to leave education, there is other, and some would argue more important, variables that are only found within the environment of the school. Areas such social experience among students and peer rejection as well as the actual attitudes and qualifications of administrators, teachers, and staff members are imperative topics of question, but disciplinary and behavioral problems also need to be looked at closer in order to determine its status as a predictor of trends in dropping out of school. Martin et al. (2002) have stated that behavior and discipline problems are a contributing factor in the alienation of students from school. In concurrence with Martin et al., Ensminger and Slusarcick (1992) found that an early profile of disruptive behavior can predict early student withdrawal from school, with this assertion still holding its ground after controlling for socioeconomic factors. Coley (1995) also found that in the two years prior to publication, nearly one half of school dropouts reported being absent for more than 10 days of school, one-third missed class more than 10 times, one-third had been suspended, and 19% of students were in some sort of trouble with the law. Vitaro (2001) found similar results to the Ensminger and Slusarcick study in that Vitaro found that student disruptiveness contributed significantly in predicting early and late dropout status when assessed during early school years, the effect of this disruptive profile accounting for twice the amount of early dropouts, even after the implementation of controls for the effects of socio-family adversity.
In addition to identifying students with disruptive behavior patterns as possible early and later dropouts, two studies also took in to account the actual process of disciplining these students. Obviously, students who exhibit disruptive behavior are more likely to be reprimanded for such actions and attitudes, and these students are usually dealt with through behavior contracts, detention, suspension, and possibly even expulsion depending upon the severity of the behavior. Christle (2007) found that the suspension rate and Board of Education violation rate was significantly higher for high dropout schools (HDOS). Christle also stated that schools with exclusionary practices might actually be impeding their students' educational progress and those students who are excluded from school due to these practices have fewer opportunities to gain academic skills necessary for graduation, as well as less exposure to appropriate social behaviors. In the Coley (1995) study mentioned earlier, 17% of dropouts reported having been told by administrators and school staff that they could not return to their school, which only lessens the opportunities for disruptive students to learn proper social norms and acquire necessary academic skills. While students are affected by their home environments, they can also be putting themselves at risk for dropout behavior by creating problems at school.
This disruptive behavior, while itself a detrimental component leading to dropping out, can also cause students to encounter disciplinary repercussion that will only lessen their opportunities for academic success. It is not very likely that a student will be able to achieve academically when they are misbehaving in such a way as to warrant being suspended from school. Although there behavior may be a concern on a individual basis, there are social aspects that can contribute to or directly lead to such a disruptive profile. Often times when students act out it is a symptom of which another variable is causing the problem. Some students act out for attention, others for entertainment's sake, and still others act out unintentionally as a way to gain acceptance from otherwise rejecting peers. By trying to find the cause of a student's disruptive profile, it leads to other variables, mainly that student's individual social experience within the school social environment as well as his or hers rejection from peers.
Social Experience and Peer Rejection
Since public schools are by no means an exclusionary learning environment, and one could counter that school is solely a social learning environment, students must be viewed in terms of their social experience at school and within their circle of peers. The behavior exhibited by students in the classroom can be indicative of problems outside of the classroom, but still within the confines of the school experience. Elliott and Voss (1974) assessed the network of friends of student from 8th grade through 12th grade over a 5-year period. Statistically significant, moderate correlations were found between exposure to friends who had dropped out of school prior to graduating at the beginning of the study and later dropout status. In addition to this link Elliott and Voss also noticed that a gain in exposure to dropout friends was also related to later dropout status. In support of this study, Cairns et al. (1989) also showed that the 7th graders who were most vulnerable to dropping out of school later in their academic career had affiliations with other students who were also considered at-risk for dropping out of school. In addition to these studies, other researchers have also reported that students who have stable relationships with deviant peers often display an increase in behavior problems, of which might lead to the aforementioned disciplinary actions that schools might take to control such individuals (Berndt, Hawkins, and Jiao, 1999). Lastly and most recently, Vitaro (2007) found that deviant or dropout friends better predicted early rather than later dropout status. Although this study found a correlation between dropout behavior and deviant/dropout friends, negative social experiences did not predict dropout status in the final model created in the study, after controlling for personal dispositions and family-related variables.
While students who associate with deviant or dropout friends may be more likely to dropout out later in their academic career, students who do not have healthy, friendly relationships with their peers are also at risk of being dropouts. Coie (1990) found that many students with disruptive behavior profiles often experience peer rejection; this is important due to the fact that peer rejection has been predicatively linked in some studies, but not all, to students dropping out of school (Hymel et al., 1996). Kuperschmidt et al. (1990) asserted that students' rejection from peers, or lack of friends, exacerbated the frustration of poor grades and punishment for low levels of achievement, which in turn increased students' desire and motivation to drop out of school prior to graduation. In support of the aforementioned study, Ollendick et al. (1992) reported that 9-year-old rejected children failed more grades and were more likely to drop out of school 5 years later than were children who did not experience rejection from their peers.