Dropping out

Last updated

Dropping out refers to leaving high school, college, university or another group for practical reasons, necessities, inability, apathy, or disillusionment with the system from which the individual in question leaves.



In Canada, most individuals graduate from grade 12 by the age of 18, according to Jason Gilmore who collects data on employment and education using the Labour Force Survey. The LFS is the official survey used to collect unemployment data in Canada (2010). Using this tool, assessing educational attainment and school attendance can calculate a dropout rate (Gilmore, 2010). It was found by the LFS that by 2009, one in twelve 20- to 24-year-old adults did not have a high school diploma (Gilmore, 2010). The study also found that men still have higher dropout rates than women, and that students outside of major cities and in the northern territories also have a higher risk of dropping out. Although since 1990 dropout rates have gone down from 20% to a low of 9% in 2010, the rate does not seem to be dropping since this time (2010).[ citation needed ]

The average Canadian dropout earns $70 less per week than their peers with a high school diploma. Graduates (without post-secondary) earned an average of $621 per week, whereas dropout students earned an average of $551 (Gilmore, 2010).

Even though dropout rates have gone down in the last 20 to 25 years, the concerns of the impact dropping out has on the labour market are very real (Gilmore, 2010). One in four students without a high school diploma who was in the labour market in 2009-2010 had less likelihood of finding a job due to economic downturn (Gilmore, 2010).

In 2018, graduation rates at universities within Canada were as low as 44% (Macleans, 2018). This is almost half of the student population (Macleans, 2018) There tends to be an increase in students dropping-out as a result of feeling disconnected from their school community (Binfet et al., 2016). This is most common with students within their first two years of post-secondary where students will withdraw from their program, or their entire education completely (Binfet et al., 2018). One preventable measure that post-secondary institutions have used within Canada to combat students dropping out is to incorporate animal support programs (Binfet et al., 2016., & Binfet et al., 2018). Allowing students to interact with support dogs and their owners allowed students to feel connected to their peers, school and school community (Binfet et al., 2016., & Binfet et al., 2018).

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, a dropout is anyone who leaves school, college or university without either completing their course of study or transferring to another educational institution. Attendance at a school is compulsory until age 16.

Dropout rate benchmarks are set for each higher education institution and monitored by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). [1] Dropout rates are often one of the factors assessed when ranking UK universities in league tables.

In November 2014, a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that students from poorer home backgrounds were 8.4 percentage points more likely to drop out of university in the first two years of an undergraduate course than those from the richest homes; they were also 22.9 percentage points less likely to obtain a 2:1 or first degree. For students studying on the same course and who arrived at university with similar grades, the differences fell but remained significant. The report concluded that more should be done both to raise the attainment levels of poorer students prior to their arrival at university and to provide additional support to them at university. [2]

United States

More children drop out of high school in US states with higher economic inequality. More children drop out of high school in more unequal US states.jpg
More children drop out of high school in US states with higher economic inequality.

In the United States, dropping out most commonly refers to a student quitting school without fulfilling the requirements for graduation. It cannot always be ascertained that a student has dropped out, as they may stop attending without terminating enrollment. It is estimated 1.2 million students annually drop out of high school in the United States, where high school graduation rates rank 19th in the world. [3] Reasons are varied and may include: to find employment, avoid bullying, family emergency, poor grades, depression and other mental illnesses, unexpected pregnancy, bad environment, lack of freedom, and even boredom. The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts [4] by Civic Enterprises explores reasons students leave school without graduating. The consequences of dropping out of school can have long-term economic and social repercussions. Students who drop out of school in the United States are more likely to be unemployed, homeless, receiving welfare and incarcerated. [5] A four-year study in San Francisco found that 94 percent of young murder victims were high school dropouts. [6]

The United States Department of Education's measurement of the status dropout rate is the percentage of 16-24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential. [7] This rate is different from the event dropout rate and related measures of the status completion and average freshman completion rates. [8] The status high school dropout rate in 2009 was 8.1%. [7] There are many risk factors for high school dropout. These can be categorized into social and academic risk factors. Members of racial and ethnic minority groups drop out at higher rates than white students, as do those from low-income families, from single-parent households, and from families in which one or both parents also did not complete high school. [9] Students at risk for dropout based on academic risk factors are those who often have a history of absenteeism and grade retention, academic trouble, and more general disengagement from school life. [9]


In Australia, dropping out most commonly refers to a student quitting school before they graduate. Reasons for students dropping out vary but usually include: Avoiding bullies, finding employment, family problems, depression and other mental illnesses, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse and in some cases even boredom. [10] Researchers at Melbourne's Mitchell Institute have found that a quarter of Australian high school students are not graduating year 12, and that completion rates are much worse in remote or economically disadvantaged communities. Professor Teese believes the segregation of students in schools through geography as well as in the private and public systems means student disadvantage is stronger in Australia than other western nations such as New Zealand and Canada. [11] Drop out rates vary throughout different locations in Australia. Students that attend school in remote communities have a higher chance of not completing year 12 (56.6%), whereas students that come from a wealthy background share an average completion rate of 90%. [11] These remote schooling programs serve primarily indigenous students. Indigenous students to have lower rates of completion: the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous year 12 graduates is over 40 percentage points. As a result of this substantial difference, lower socioeconomic students who drop out are considered at-risk-students and are ultimately prone to unemployment, incarceration, low-paying employment and having children at early ages.

Latin America

When analysing the household surveys of some countries in the Latin American region – notably, those of Bolivia, Chile, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Paraguay – researching the opinions of boys, girls, adolescents, young people as well as their families on the reasons they drop out of school, some recurring features surface that enable us to group the analyses into two main categories. The first is directly related to 'the material dimension' of education. In this case, financial difficulties are the main reason why families do not manage to keep their children and adolescents in school. The other major group of factors for school drop out falls into the 'subjective dimension' of the educational experience. Surveys revealed that 22% of out-of-school boys and girls aged 10 or 11 years state that they are in this situation because they have no interest in studying. This percentage jumps to 38% in adolescents aged 15 to 17 years who also provided this reason for their disengagement with the education system. [12]

Dropout recovery

A "dropout recovery" initiative is any community, government, non-profit or business program in which students who have previously left school are sought out for the purpose of re-enrollment. In the U.S., such initiatives are often focused on former high school students who are still young enough to have their educations publicly subsidized, generally those 22 years of age and younger. In Rwanda, dropout recovery is often focused on primary and ordinary level students who are still young to have their educations. [13]

Dropout recovery programs can be initiated in traditional "brick-and-mortar" institutions of learning, in community centers or online.

Dropping out of high school can have drastic long-term economic and social repercussions, especially in Australia which has a less equitable education system than many other western countries. Therefore, different pathways and courses of study are being implemented by the government, non-profit organizations, and private companies to offer a selection of education recovery plans for young adults around the age of 22 and below.


Students that drop out of high-school are generally those that struggle to engage behaviorally and/or academically. [14] However, it is not entirely clear whether different types of contextual or self-system variables affect students' engagement or contribute to their decision to drop out. According to data collected by the national education longitudinal study of 1988, Rumberger found that students with moderate to high absenteeism, behavior problems and having no school or outside activities were highly predictive of dropping out. [15]


Family dynamics

Under the pact of educational inclusion at the secondary level, how families organize themselves internally to produce well-being is an unavoidable topic for countries to address when seeking to broaden the effective opportunities of access to, retention in and graduation from the secondary education. Therefore, the construction of a new policy, the adolescent and the young person at school, is an acknowledgement of what is happening in reality and shapes a mutually beneficial alliance between the state and families to generate dynamics where young people can become exclusive recipients of care – at least until completion of their secondary schooling. [12]

See also


Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg  This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0( license statement/permission ). Text taken from Youth and changing realities: rethinking secondary education in Latin America , 22-24, 28, López, Néstor; Opertti, Renato; Vargas Tamez, Carlos, UNESCO. UNESCO. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Teenage pregnancy</span> Pregnancy in human females under the age of 20

Teenage pregnancy, also known as adolescent pregnancy, is pregnancy in a female adolescent under the age of 20. This includes those who are legally considered adults in their country. The WHO defines adolescence as the period between the ages of 10 and 19 years. Pregnancy can occur with sexual intercourse after the start of ovulation, which can be before the first menstrual period (menarche) but usually occurs after the onset of periods. In healthy, well-nourished girls, the first period usually takes place around the age of 12.

Achievement gaps in the United States are observed, persistent disparities in measures of educational performance among subgroups of U.S. students, especially groups defined by socioeconomic status (SES), race/ethnicity and gender. The achievement gap can be observed through a variety of measures, including standardized test scores, grade point average, dropout rates, college enrollment, and college completion rates. The gap in achievement between lower income students and higher income students exists in all nations and it has been studied extensively in the U.S. and other countries, including the U.K. Various other gaps between groups exist around the globe as well.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Education in Bolivia</span> Overview of education in Bolivia

Education in Bolivia, as in many other areas of Bolivian life, has a divide between Bolivia's rural and urban areas. Rural illiteracy levels remain high, even as the rest of the country becomes increasingly literate. Bolivia devotes 23% of its annual budget to educational expenditures, a higher percentage than in most other South American countries, albeit from a smaller national budget. A comprehensive, education reform has made some significant changes. Initiated in 1994, the reform decentralized educational funding in order to meet diverse local needs, improved teacher training and curricula, formalized and expanded intercultural bilingual education and changed the school grade system. Resistance from teachers’ unions, however, has slowed implementation of some of the intended reforms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Education in Syria</span> Overview of education in Syria

Education in the Syrian Arab Republic is given the necessary attention and care by the Syrian state, as the Syrian Constitution guarantees the right to education to every citizen, which is compulsory and free at primary level. It is free but not compulsory at the secondary level and higher education is available for a symbolic fee. the primary level includes 2 stages, 1 & 2 which include grades 1 to 6 while the secondary school includes grades 7 to 10

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Educational attainment in the United States</span> American levels of education

The educational attainment of the U.S. population refers to the highest level of education completed. The educational attainment of the U.S. population is similar to that of many other industrialized countries with the vast majority of the population having completed secondary education and a rising number of college graduates that outnumber high school dropouts. As a whole, the population of the United States is spending more years in formal educational programs. As with income, levels differ by race, age, household configuration, and geography.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Education in Cambodia</span> Overview of education in Cambodia

Education in Cambodia is controlled by the state through the Ministry of Education in a national level and by the Department of Education at the provincial level. The Cambodian education system includes pre-school, primary, secondary education, higher education and non-formal education. The education system includes the development of sport, information technology education, research development and technical education. School enrollment has increased during the 2000s in Cambodia. USAID data shows that in 2011 primary enrollment reached 96% of the child population, lower secondary school 34% and upper secondary 21%.

An at-risk student is a term used in the United States to describe a student who requires temporary or ongoing intervention in order to succeed academically. At risk students, sometimes referred to as at-risk youth or at-promise youth, are also adolescents who are less likely to transition successfully into adulthood and achieve economic self-sufficiency. Characteristics of at-risk students include emotional or behavioral problems, truancy, low academic performance, showing a lack of interest for academics, and expressing a disconnection from the school environment. A school's effort to at-risk students is essential. For example, a study showed that 80% to 87% of variables that led to a school's retention are predictable with linear modeling. In January 2020, Governor Newsom of California changed all references to "at-risk" to "at-promise" in the California Penal Codes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Education in Ethiopia</span> Overview of education in Ethiopia

Education in Ethiopia was dominated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for many centuries until secular education was adopted in the early 1900s. Prior to 1974, Ethiopia had an estimated literacy rate below 50% and compared poorly with the rest of even Africa in the provision of schools and universities. After the Ethiopian Revolution, emphasis was placed on increasing literacy in rural areas. Practical subjects were stressed, as was the teaching of socialism. By 2015, the literacy rate had increased to 49.1%, still poor compared to most of the rest of Africa.

After-school activities, also known as after-school programs or after-school care, started in the early 1900s mainly just as supervision of students after the final school bell. Today, after-school programs do much more. There is a focus on helping students with school work but can be beneficial to students in other ways. An after-school program, today, will not limit its focus on academics but with a holistic sense of helping the student population. An after-school activity is any organized program that youth or adult learner voluntary can participate in outside of the traditional school day. Some programs are run by a primary or secondary school, while others are run by externally funded non-profit or commercial organizations. After-school youth programs can occur inside a school building or elsewhere in the community, for instance at a community center, church, library, or park. After-school activities are a cornerstone of concerted cultivation, which is a style of parenting that emphasizes children gaining leadership experience and social skills through participating in organized activities. Such children are believed by proponents to be more successful in later life, while others consider too many activities to indicate overparenting. While some research has shown that structured after-school programs can lead to better test scores, improved homework completion, and higher grades, further research has questioned the effectiveness of after-school programs at improving youth outcomes such as externalizing behavior and school attendance. Additionally, certain activities or programs have made strides in closing the achievement gap, or the gap in academic performance between white students and students of color as measured by standardized tests. Though the existence of after-school activities is relatively universal, different countries implement after-school activities differently, causing after-school activities to vary on a global scale.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Education in Ivory Coast</span> Overview of education in Ivory Coast

Education in Ivory Coast continues to face many challenges. Among sub-Saharan African countries, Ivory Coast has one of the highest literacy rates. According to The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency as of facts. The literacy rate for adults remains low: in 2000, it was estimated that only 48.7% of the total population was literate. Many children between 6 and 10 years are not enrolled in school, mainly children of poor families. The majority of students in secondary education are male. At the end of secondary education, students can sit the Baccalauréat examination. The country has universities in Abidjan, Bouaké, and Yamoussoukro.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Education in the Dominican Republic</span>

In the Dominican Republic, education is free and compulsory at the elementary level, and free but non-mandatory at the secondary level. It is divided into four stages:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Education in Uruguay</span> Overview of education in Uruguay

Education in Uruguay is compulsory for a total of fourteen years, beginning at the preschool level, and is free from the pre-primary through the university level. In 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate was 111.7 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 92.9 percent. Primary school attendance rates were unavailable for Uruguay as of 2001.

Since gaining independence from France in 1956, the government of Tunisia has focused on developing an education system which produces a solid human capital base that could respond to the changing needs of a developing nation. Sustained structural reform efforts since the early 1990s, prudent macroeconomic policies, and deeper trade integration in the global economy have created an enabling environment for growth. This environment has been conducive to attain positive achievements in the education sector which placed Tunisia ahead of countries with similar income levels, and in a good position to achieve MDGs. According to the HDI 2007, Tunisia is ranked 90 out of 182 countries and is ranked 4th in MENA region just below Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. Education is the number one priority of the government of Tunisia, with more than 20 percent of government’s budget allocated for education in 2005/06. As of 2006 the public education expenditure as a percentage of GDP stood at 7 percent.

Despite significant progress, education remains a challenge in Latin America. The region has made great progress in educational coverage; almost all children attend primary school and access to secondary education has increased considerably. Children complete on average two more years of schooling than their parents' generation. Most educational systems in the region have implemented various types of administrative and institutional reforms that have enabled reach for places and communities that had no access to education services in the early 90s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">High school dropouts in the United States</span>

The United States Department of Education's measurement of the status dropout rate is the percentage of 16 to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential. This rate is different from the event dropout rate and related measures of the status completion and average freshman completion rates. The status high school dropout rate in 2009 was 8.1%. There are many risk factors for high school dropouts. These can be categorized into social and academic risk factors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dropout Prevention Act</span>

The Dropout Prevention Act – also known as: Title I, Part H, of No Child Left Behind – is responsible for establishing the school dropout prevention program under No Child Left Behind. This part of No Child Left Behind was created to provide schools with support for retention of all students and prevention of dropouts from the most at-risk youth. It is estimated that 1.2 million American students drop out of high school each year. The US Department of Education assesses the dropout rate by calculating the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not currently enrolled in school and who have not yet earned a high school credential. For example, the high school dropout rate of the United States in 2008 was 8.1%.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Youth in Hong Kong</span>

Youth in Hong Kong, according to the University of Hong Kong Statistical Profile, includes citizens of the Chinese territory of Hong Kong aged 15–24 years. As of 2011, youth in Hong Kong ages 15–24 made up 12.4 per cent of Hong Kong's overall population at 875,200 people. Hong Kong is a hybrid culture, influenced by China and Britain, but overall by its international economic ties and neoliberal policies, which plays a role in shaping the lives of the youth in Hong Kong. The youth in Hong Kong is unique in the fact that many are living Transnationalist identities. The demographics are not just ethnically Chinese youth in Hong Kong, but also youth that are ethnically white, Indonesian, Filipino, which can be seen in Demographics of Hong Kong, and that creates a unique society. "Although with a dominant Chinese population, Hong Kong is an international city and is a mix of East and West rich in cultures, history, and religions." The disparity between the rich and poor within Hong Kong has been growing wider.

School dropouts in Latin America refer to people who leave school before graduating in this particular region. Given that the large majority of children and adolescents in the region are enrolled in the education system, it can be argued that school dropouts in Latin America are predominantly due to the weakening of a link, which for a variety of reasons wore away and finally broke. The fact that school drop out intensifies specifically when young men and women are between the ages of 15 and 17 years and that it increases disproportionately in populations that are under-served in other ways highlights the difficulty the education system has in interacting with populations in situations that are more complex than those with which it was designed to cope. Adolescents and young people from the most disadvantaged social sectors who are typically the first generation from their families to attend secondary school are six times more likely to be out of school.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">School belonging</span> Term

The most commonly used definition of school belonging comes from a 1993 academic article by researchers Carol Goodenow and Kathleen Grady, who describe school belonging as "the extent to which students feel personally accepted, respected, included, and supported by others in the school social environment." The construct of school belonging involves feeling connected with and attached to one's school. It also encompasses involvement and affiliation with one's school community. Conversely, students who do not feel a strong sense of belonging within their school environment are frequently described as being alienated or disaffected. There are a number of terms within educational research that are used interchangeably with school belonging, including school connectedness, school attachment, and school engagement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on female education</span> COVID-19 impact on education of females

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on female education. Female education relates to the unequal social norms and the specific forms of discrimination that girls face. In 2018, 130 million girls worldwide were out of school, and only two out of three girls were enrolled in secondary education. The COVID-19 pandemic may further widen the gaps and threatens to disrupt the education of more than 11 million girls. In addition, girls are less likely to have access to the Internet and online learning.


  1. "University drop-out rates". news.bbc.co.uk. 19 December 2001. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  2. "University 'drop-out risk for poorer students". BBC News. 4 November 2014.
  3. High School Dropouts - Do Something. Do Something. Retrieved on 14 December 2013.
  4. The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved on 14 December 2013.
  5. NoDropouts.org. NoDropouts.org. Retrieved on 14 December 2013
  6. Tough solutions for high school truancy rate - SFGate. SFGate. Retrieved on 14 December 2013.
  7. 1 2 NCES 2011
  8. NCES 2009
  9. 1 2 Lee 2003
  10. Fall, Anna-Mária; Roberts, Greg (2012). "High school dropouts: Interactions between social context, self-perceptions, school engagement, and student dropout". Journal of Adolescence. 35 (4): 787–798. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2011.11.004. PMC   3478125 . PMID   22153483.
  11. 1 2 "One in four Australian students drop out of high school". ABC News. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  12. 1 2 López, Néstor; Opertti, Renato; Vargas Tamez, Carlos (2017). Youth and changing realities: Rethinking secondary education in Latin America (PDF). UNESCO. pp. 22–24, 28. ISBN   978-92-31 00204-5.
  13. Rosann, Gregg. "Of whiz kids and wizards: Why it's time to change the way we think about who can go to high school" Archived 11 September 2012 at archive.today , Nodropouts.org. Retrieved on 12 September 2010.
  14. Fall, A. M.; Roberts, G (2012). "High school dropouts: Interactions between social context, self-perceptions, school engagement, and student dropout". Journal of Adolescence. 35 (4): 787–98. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2011.11.004. PMC   3478125 . PMID   22153483.
  15. Rumberger, Russell W.; Larson, Katherine A. (1 November 1998). "Student Mobility and the Increased Risk of High School Dropout". American Journal of Education. 107 (1): 1–35. doi:10.1086/444201. ISSN   0195-6744. S2CID   145532575.

Binfet, J., Passmore, H., Cebry, A., Struik, K., & McKay, C. (2018). Reducing university students' stress through a drop-in canine-therapy program. Journal of Mental Health, 27(3), 197–204.

Binfet, J., & Passmore, H. (2016). Hounds and homesickness: The effects of an animal-assisted therapeutic intervention for first-year university students. Anthrozoös, 29(3), 441–454.