National Dropout Prevention Center/Network Releases Position Paper Identifying Importance of Student Engagement in Reducing Dropout Rates

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Aligning Students’ Personal Commitment and Stakeholders’ Roles Key to Preventing Disengagement

Clemson, S.C. (February 8, 2017) – The National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N) has published a position paper, Weaving Student Engagement Into the Core Practices of Schools, in collaboration with Teri Dary, Anderson Williams and NDPC/N Research Fellows Terry Pickeral and Robert Shumer. Recognizing that currently no national leader or organization exists to provide direction and guidance for integrating systemic youth engagement practices into schools, NDPC/N’s position paper is the first academic compilation of research and resources that examines the role student engagement, defined as a systemic strategy to engage students through academic, social-emotional, civic and career knowledge and skills, has on dropout prevention.

The position paper defines student engagement and explains its importance in preventing students from dropping out of school. Utilizing the framework Understanding the Continuum of Youth Involvement developed by co-author Anderson Williams, the researchers focus on the roles and responsibilities of both students and adults, with the goal of moving youth from externally driven youth activity to internally owned youth action. According to the authors, engagement occurs when students discover that learning is a personal endeavor. The authors then identify four key practices for stakeholders to engage students and to sustain student engagement once attained.

Terry Pickeral, a co-author of the position paper, notes, “Research demonstrates that active learning has positive impacts on student development. Student engagement is an effective active teaching and learning strategy as it connects students to their environment, provides a sense of belonging and demonstrates the importance of education. It is a consistent thread woven into the fabric of the National Dropout Prevention Center’s 15 Effective Dropout Prevention Strategies, connecting schools and the community, providing early interventions, aligning with core teaching and learning and ensuring instruction is relevant to today’s students. Student engagement is a viable strategy for students from pre-school through high school as it creates safe, engaging, equitable and inclusive school climates for each student to be successful in school and life.”

“The researchers describe a continuum of student engagement from participation to voice to leadership to full engagement,” says Dr. Sandy Addis, Director of the NDPC/N. “They give reasons to weave student engagement into all school activities and also give some practical ways to make that happen. One of the NDPC/N’s goals is to provide research on best practices and this position paper not only provides research, it offers suggestions for implementation. We are pleased to add this important work to NDPC/N’s existing resources.”

The position paper and a two-page brief are available at As the foremost resource for educators and policymakers who work to improve graduation rates, the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, values student engagement as an effective approach that aligns with its 15 Effective Dropout Prevention Strategies and recognizes that an integrated educational system that engages students leads to student attributes aligned with staying in and succeeding in school and in life.

About the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N)

Established in 1986 with a mission to reduce dropout rates, the NDPC/N shares solutions for student success and dropout prevention through its clearinghouse function, active research and evaluation projects, publications, and a variety of professional development activities and conferences. The organization’s website——is the nation’s leading resource in providing effective, research-based solutions to engaging students and reducing dropout. The NDPC/N is housed in the College of Education at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.


Lynn Dunlap
Public Information Director
National Dropout Prevention Center/Network
Clemson University
209 Martin Street
Clemson, SC 29631
Phone: 864-656-2678

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