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Noting that a better grasp of the dynamics of student development is needed if dropout prevention is to move beyond temporary and usually tardy palliative programs, this report reviews current research on the factors that determine whether or not students will complete high school. It also suggests avenues of future research in order to yield the information necessary to reach National Education Goal 2, a 90 percent high school graduation rate in the United States. Part 1 of the report serves as an introduction, examining the meaning of graduation rates and outlining current high school completion rates. Part 2 defines high school dropout rates, examines the demographics of the dropout population, and explores the reasons why students drop out of school and return to school. Part 3 outlines the origins of the dropout issue and the relevant educational theories and practices, and discusses the problem at the micro-, middle-, and macro-level. Part 4 examines current and possible future research on mainstream dropouts, traditionally disadvantaged groups, students with disabilities, alternative certification, adolescent employment, adolescent pregnancy, and dropout prevention programs. Four essays on the dropout issue are appended: (1) "Perspectives on Dropping Out" (Philip Cusick); (2) "High School Graduation as a Motivational Phenomenon: A Motivational Perspective" (Sandra Graham); (3) "Research Agenda for Achieving Goal #2" (Fred Newmann and Gary Wehlage); and (4) "Research Direction Based on Goal 2" (Jay Smink and Patricia Cloud Duttweiler). The report and the appended essays contain separate reference lists. (MDM)

Descriptors: Disabilities, Disadvantaged, Dropout Characteristics, Dropout Prevention, Dropout Rate, Dropout Research, Dropouts, Elementary Secondary Education, Graduation, High Risk Students, High School Students, School Effectiveness

Autor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement ED, Washington, DC.


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