• Article

When and why dropouts leave high school

Teens may leave school because of academic failure, disciplinary problems, or employment opportunities. In this article, the authors test whether the reasons dropouts leave school differ by grade level and age. We compare dropout rates and reasons across grade levels and ages for all high school students, ethnic groups, and gender groups. Across all students, ninth graders have the highest dropout rate: This pattern persists for Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans, and for male students. Dropout reasons vary by age, grade, ethnicity, and gender as well. Ninth graders and students aged 16 and younger are more likely than advanced and older students to leave school for disciplinary reasons. Older male students are more likely than younger males to leave school for employment. The significant variation in dropout rates and reasons by grade level and age indicates that multiple dropout processes may influence teens to leave school.


Stearns, E., & Glennie, E. (2006). When and why dropouts leave high school. Youth & Society, 38(1), 29-57. https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X05282764

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