Major Research Study Confirms Effectiveness of Dropout Prevention Strategies

CLEMSON, SC — The technical report of a new, major research study of dropout prevention strategies provides evidence of the effectiveness of these strategies in addition to presenting educators with valid scientific evidence that will enable them to select the best options for combating dropout problems in their schools and school districts.NDPC/N logo

The widely anticipated study and its resulting technical report, “A Meta-Analysis of Dropout Prevention Outcomes and Strategies,” provides previously unavailable guidance to teachers, principals, school districts and boards in their selection of dropout tools and can assist decision-makers target the distribution of scarce dropout prevention funds. It also is hoped that the application of these findings will positively impact the nation’s ongoing effort to improve graduation rates.

The report was authored by Shanan Chappell Moots, research assistant professor in The Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion University’s Darden College of Education. Chappell Moots also is a research fellow with the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N) at Clemson University.

In that capacity, she was the lead researcher in a multi-organization team, including faculty from Kent State University and Clemson, investigating the efficacy of dropout prevention strategies using meta-analysis and meta-regression methodologies. The strategies researched by Chappell Moots and team included mentoring, family engagement and behavioral interventions, among several others.

“Until now, there have been no published analyses of how the dropout rate varies by particular program strategy,” Chappell Moots said. “In our analysis, we examined how well each strategy predicts the dropout rate. While we have built upon decades of research in the dropout prevention field, this is what differentiates our study from what others have done.”

“A Meta-Analysis of Dropout Prevention Outcomes and Strategies” further confirms NDPC/N’s “15 Effective Strategies for Dropout Prevention” identified and defined decades ago by Jay Smink, NDPC/N director from 1986 to 2012. Smink also contributed the foreword to the new report, providing a history of the identification of the 15 strategies used today in at least 32 states’ school dropout prevention plans.

“We are excited about the release of this report and its ability to help schools and school districts shape their dropout prevention efforts,” said George J. Petersen, founding dean of the Eugene T. Moore School of Education at Clemson University, which houses NDPC/N. “Such efforts are not only critical to improving graduation rates, but also have far-reaching consequences related to employment, health and overall wellbeing. Our school is pleased to be a part of a study that helps serve schools and communities in this way.”

“This report will substantially enhance our collaborations with schools and other partners and will be a significant resource for others working in the field,” said John A. Nunnery, executive director of The Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion. “The report also poignantly demonstrates the need for additional rigorous research on dropout prevention — of over 500 studies reviewed, only about one in 10 was sufficiently well-designed to include in a scientific synthesis of outcomes.”

“We are fortunate to be affiliated with research fellows like Dr. Chappell Moots who are well-versed in the dropout issue, highly skilled in statistical analysis and willing to devote personal energies to developing new tools and information to address one of our nation’s most critical social and economic issues: the dropout problem,” said NDPC/N Interim Director Sandy Addis.

Chappell Moots’s research colleagues on “A Meta-Analysis of Dropout Prevention Outcomes and Strategies” included Patrick O’Connor, associate professor in the College of Teaching Learning and Curriculum Studies at Kent State University; Cairen Withington, assistant director at the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network; and Dolores A. Stegelin, professor of teacher education and early childhood education at Clemson.

The full report, including resources and citations, is available at

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