Even though school completion rates have continually grown during much of past 100 years, dropping out of school persists as a problem that interferes with educational system efficiency and the most straightforward and satisfying route to individual educational goals for young people. 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. Some excerpts are presented below in tables; however, for a complete discussion, please see the original article: “Understanding Why Students Drop Out of High School, According to Their Own Reports”
The selected tables are presented in opposite order than they appear in the article so as to present the most recent data first. Note also that survey questions varied from study to study (database to database) so caution should be taken in making comparisons across years and studies.
Included in the tables presented is an analysis of whether the reasons presented are considered “push,” “pull,” or “falling out” factors. The following briefly presents an explanation from Doll et al. (2013).
Jordan et al. (1994) explained pressures on students of push and pull dropout factors. A student is pushed out when adverse situations within the school environment lead to consequences, ultimately resulting in dropout. . . . [S]tudents can be pulled out when factors inside the student divert them from completing school. . . . Watt and Roessingh (1994) added a third factor called falling out of school, which occurs when a student does not show significant academic progress in schoolwork and becomes apathetic or even disillusioned with school completion. It is not necessarily an active decision, but rather a “side-effect of insufficient personal and educational support” (p. 293).
|Type||Rank||Cause of Dropout||Overall Frequency Percentage||Males||Females|
|Overall||Pushed out—10 factors||48.7||53.1||47.1|
|Pulled out—8 factors||36.9||30.4||40.0|
|Falling out—3 factors||14.3||16.5||12.9|
|Push||1||Missed too many school days||43.5||44.1||42.7|
|Pull||2||Thought it would be easier to get GED||40.5||41.5||39.1|
|Push||3||Was getting poor grades/failing school||38.0||40.1||35.2|
|Fall||4||Did not like school||36.6||40.1||32.0|
|Push||5||Could not keep up with schoolwork||32.1||29.7||35.3|
|Push||8||Thought could not complete course requirements||25.6||22.9||39.0|
|Push||9||Could not get along with teachers||25.0||27.7||21.6|
|Fall||12||Did not feel belonged there||19.9||19.9||19.9|
|Push||13||Could not get along with others||18.7||17.7||20.1|
|Fall||17||Changed schools and did not like new one||11.2||14.5||7.0|
|Push||18||Thought would fail competency test||10.5||9.0||12.3|
|Push||19||Did not feel safe||10.0||10.5||9.5|
|Pull||11||Had to support family||20.0||17.6||23.0|
|Pull||15||To care for a member of the family||15.5||15.2||16.0|
|Pull||16||Became a father/mother of a baby||14.4||6.2||25.0|
|Pull||21||Married or planned to get married||6.8||3.0||11.6|
|Pull||7||Got a job||27.8||33.5||20.3|
|Pull||10||Could not work at same time||21.7||23.1||19.9|
Source. Dalton, Glennie, Ingels, and Wirt (2009, p.22); Dropout Indicator 29.