Secondary Youth Perspective On Dropping Out Of School Education Essay

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The rate at which students are dropping out of school is a dilemma and has become a serious problem for school districts across the nation. The purpose of this study is to glean insights from the dropouts themselves, regarding their decision to leave school before completion and to codify their perceptions, beliefs and attitudes toward dropping out of school. This paper examines the attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions through interviews and will be conducted on 10 participants in Penang. A qualitative research method was used to focus on the meaning that people make of their lives, their experiences, and their environment.

Secondary Youth Perspective on Dropping Out of School

Concern for dropouts is not new. Mohamad Kamal Haji Nawawi (Bornep Post Online, 2012), general manager for Malaysian Talents Development of Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad said that: "between Form One and Form Five, out of the 400,000 students that enrolled in Form One, some 44,000 would leave school annually before completing their Form Five, or Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia." "Some 80,000 students are estimated to have dropped out of secondary schools from 2006 to 2010," said Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong (The malaysian Insider, 2011). He speculated that some factors for droppings out may be for health reasons, to enter the workforce and because of lack of interest in education (The malaysian Insider, 2011). Previously parents can say they have five or six children and cannot afford to pay school fees. "Now, the government is taking care of that. If they do not have the money, they will be given RM100 and for poor families, we give RM500 one-off," said Dr Wee (The malaysian Insider, 2011). "We are working towards that, meaning policy-wise we want to make everyone finish Form Five, at least complete the secondary education," he said when asked if the ministry will consider making secondary school enrolment as mandatory." said Dr Wee (The malaysian Insider, 2011). Before looking at the reasons for dropping out from school, it is necessary to define what is means to drop out. We use term "dropout" refer to youth whom leave secondary school before graduation, including those who leave but return later, and those who after complete some form of equivalency diploma (Audus & Willms, 2001). Dropping out of school is a serious problem, and society is finally acknowledging the profound social and economic consequences for students, their families, the school and the community. Leaving school without a diploma can have lasting negative effects on the person socially and economically, causing severe disadvantages entering into adult life.

Understanding why students drop out of school is the key to addressing this major educational problem. A number of theories have been advanced to understand the specific phenomenon of the drooping out (Audas & Willms, 2001; Finn & Zimmer, 2012; Rumberger & Lim, 2008). The theorical framework to be used in this study will be the Rumberger's (2011) framework that use individual factors associated with students themselves, such as their attitudes, behaviors and educational performance. The other frameworks focus on the contextual factors found in students' families, schools, and communities. Both frameworks are useful and, necessary to understand this complex phenomenon. It is important for the community to know why students are dropping out of school. There are number of reasons.

Individual perspective

Individual factors that predict whether students drop out or graduate from high school fall into four areas: (1) behaviors, (2) attitudes, and (3) educational performance.

(1) Behavior. A wide range of behaviors both in and out of school have been shown to predict dropout and graduation. One of the most important is student engagement, which includes students' active involvement in academic work (e.g., coming to class, doing homework) and the social aspects of school (e.g., participating in sports or other extracurricular activities). Misbehavior in high school and delinquent behavior outside of high school are both definitely associated with higher dropout and lower graduation rates. Teenagers who drink and smoke are more likely to initiate sex earlier than their peers; those who engage in these behavior patterns often have a history of difficulties in school (Rumberger, 2011). Having friends who engage in criminal behavior or friends who have dropped out also increases the odds of dropping out (Rumberger, 2011).

(2) Attitudes. The dropout literature has generally focused on a single indicator- educational expectations (how far in school a student expects to go) and has found that higher levels of educational expectations are associated with lower dropout rates.

(3) Educational performance. Dropping out represents one aspect of three interrelated dimensions of educational performance: (1) academic achievement, as reflected in grades and test scores, (2) educational stability, which reflects whether students remain in the same school (school stability) or remain enrolled in school at all (enrollment stability), and (3) educational attainment, which is reflected by years of schooling completed and the completion of degrees or diplomas (Rumberger and Lim, 2008). The framework suggests that educational attainment is dependent on both educational stability and academic achievement. That is, students who either interrupt their schooling by dropping out or changing schools, or who have poor academic achievement in school, are less likely to graduate or complete that segment of schooling.

Research Question

The research questions examined in this paper are:

Central question:

What are the reasons for students' disengagement from school?


What factors contributed to their decision to leave?

Can the dropouts themselves reveal the critical junctions in their decision to interrupt their education?

What can school administrators and educators do to prevent students from dropping out?

The main focus of discussion will be around the reasons for dropping out of school and knowing why they make such decision. The third research question is to understand either they still can back into some educational setting. Finally, the fourth question is looks at examples of good practice, try to prevent this process happens again.

Significance of the Study

Keeping students in school is very important for the well-being of the students and society as a whole. Objective of this paper is to understand the attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of the dropout students through interviews. The participant answer will help schools develop programs or policies for reducing the school drop out rate. What helps in achieving this objective must be studied so that suitable interventions and policies may be drawn out and implemented by the relevant authorities. To reduce the dropout rates of students in the long run, the issue of school engagement must be given due consideration. Schools can also benefit from the findings of the study. School administration can study how existing school practices, the school ambience and teachers affect students' school attitude.

Research Paradigm

Dropping out of school cannot be understood simply by studying the conditions of families and schools, or even the behaviors of students. The researcher takes a social constructivism stand as the researcher is trying to understand by studying the views and interpretations of those conditions and behaviors by dropouts themselves. Phenomenology studies of dropouts are based on this premise.



This research will be taking a phenomenalogical approach as the researcher will be studying their lives, their experiences, and their environment. A qualitative research can help understand the reasons for dropping out of school. Interview and interact with a small group of school dropouts. Main interview types that qualitative researchers use are in-depth, one-on-one interviews.

Interview Questions

What factors contributed to their decision to leave?

What can school administrators and educators do to prevent students from dropping out?

Was dropping out of school a good decision or a bad decision for you? Explain why.

Describe your reasons for leaving school early.

When you think back over the years, describe any specific events that lead up to your dropping out of school.

Would you do anything differently if you had the opportunity?

Is there anything else you would like to say?


The participants will be obtained using a convenience sampling method. The first participant will be introduced by an acquaintance and the participants are asked to suggest other participants who qualify.10 participants will be interviewed for this research. These interviews were typically 30 to 1 hour in duration. The participants were asked a set of semi-structured open-ended questions in a prearranged order. Perticipant of the study should be above 18, no specific choice of gender or ethnicity, must be an adult who has dropped out from school.


The interview will be conducted on 10 participants with the presence of investigator. Throughout the session, the participants will be asked questions about the attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions. It will all be done in a maximum time of 1 hour, and a minimum of 30 minutes, and only be a one-time interview, this is so that the participants would not be too tired after the interview. The interview will be recorded in audio format so that a transcription can be done. The interview will be done in a closed room so that the privacy and the confidentiality of the participants will be protected with the best efforts of the experimenter. Participants can refuse to answer any question. Participant answers to all questions are private and confidential.

Reliability and Validity

To ensure reliability of the results for this research, pilot test will be conducted on one of the participant before the actual research begins. The pilot test will be used to ensure that the questions are capable of getting the required answers and to check whether a certain interview location would be suitable for this interview as well as to know the estimated time an interview will take. After the complete collection of data the results will be taken back to the participant to confirm that there was no misinterpretation of the participant's words. A peer review will also be conducted among the researches course mates to ensure that the researcher had not make any mistakes.