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Examining dropout policies and trends for students with and without disabilities in Nebraska secondary schools

Suzanne E Kemp, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Reducing dropout rates for students with and without disabilities represents a major challenge for public schools. According to national statistics, students continue to drop out of school at an alarming rate, and students with disabilities are of particular concern. It is difficult to determine the precise extent of dropouts because individual schools, school districts, and State Departments of Education often use different definitional criteria and calculation methods. These disparities result in contradictory interpretations of how many students drop out of school. Nevertheless, there is consensus that many students are dropping out of school; although specific reasons for them doing so remains elusive. Finally, there is minimal research validating dropout prevention programs that decrease dropout rates for students with and without disabilities. ^ This purpose of this study was to survey Nebraska secondary school principals (n = 293) to examine how they calculated dropout rates, risk factors associated with students who dropout of school, and prevention strategies used to decrease dropout rates. This information was gathered for students with and without disabilities who drop out of school. ^ Results indicated that most principals used the event method to calculate dropout rates. Academic failure, lack of involvement in extracurricular activities, and excessive absenteeism were major predictors that influenced a student's decision to drop out of school. These results were the same for students with and without disabilities; however, the impact they had on each population was slightly different. Principals also reported that they used the same dropout prevention strategies for students with and without disabilities: (a) counseling, (b) career awareness and (c) preparation activities, and vocational education/technical training. However, strategies were implemented at slightly different rate for each of the groups. ^ These results may form the basis for Nebraska schools adopting a common dropout definition and calculation method. In addition, results may provide greater understanding as to why students drop out of school and effective prevention strategies to decrease dropout rates for students with and without disabilities. ^

Subject Area

Education, Special|Education, Secondary

Recommended Citation

Kemp, Suzanne E, "Examining dropout policies and trends for students with and without disabilities in Nebraska secondary schools" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3104618.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3104618

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