Identifying Early Indicators of Drop Outs in a Diverse Urban District: Implications for School Leaders



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The purpose of this study was to explore at-risk student indicators outlined in the Texas Education Code Section 29.031 to determine if any one indicator or combination of indicators is a better predictor of a student’s likelihood of dropping out of school. The study also attempted to identify if there was a better alternative to funding at-risk student education than the current method of funding, which is based upon the average number of students classified as economically disadvantaged for a six month period. This study utilized quantitative student information reported annually through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) and addressed the following questions:

  1. Is there a correlation between the 13 at-risk student indicators and the dropout indicator reported annually through the PEIMS?
  2. Are certain at-risk indicators better predictors of dropout status than others?
  3. Is there an alternative distribution methodology for at risk student funding which would better serve the state’s most at risk students? Participants in this study were 6,060 high school students included in the 2010 Cohort of District “A”. Students in this cohort attended class in the district in the ninth-grade and either graduated from a high school in the district on time during the 2009-2010 school year, transferred to another school or chose to be homeschooled, died, or should have graduated during the 2009-2010 year but did not graduate for a variety of reasons.
    The study revealed that students who were male, African American, or Hispanic were more likely to drop out of school, as compared to their female and Anglo counterparts. In addition, this research found that students who failed two or more core courses in grades seven through nine were found to be more likely to drop out of school, as compared to students who did not fail core courses during these grades. Failure of core courses in grades ten through twelve was not found to be indicative of a student dropping out of school. And, lastly, students who were removed from the regular classroom setting to an alternative setting were also found to be more likely to drop out of school.



Drop out, Dropouts, At-risk, Economically disadvantaged students