Why students drop out of school

Students drop out of school because of individual and contextual factors. Individual factors include students’ educational performance, behaviors, attitudes and background. First of all, several aspects of educational performance have been widely identified in the research literature as strong factors of dropping out of school. For example, academic achievement in both middle school and elementary school and test scores and grades in high school are among the contributors to the decision to drop out of school. Second of all, a wide range of behaviors both in and out of school have been shown to predict dropout. One of the most important is students’ engagement, which includes students’ active involvement in academic work like attendance and homework. Thirdly, parental involvement in a student’s education plays an important role for his or her success in school (White& Kelly, 2010). Several dropouts indicated that their parents were not engaged in their education or had become involved too late to make a difference (Bridgeland et al., 2006). However, these reasons do not account for the social contextual factors. As we know, schools have a powerful influence both on student achievement and dropout rates. School policies and practices in high school do matter. Students are less likely to drop out if they attend schools with a stronger academic climate, as measured by more students taking academic courses and doing homework. On the other hand, students are more likely to drop out in schools with a poor disciplinary climate, as measured by student disruptions in class or in school. Some students are pushed out of school by the policies and decisions of educators that lead to suspensions and expulsions. Today, completing high school is essential for any chance to achieve financial success later in life. Failing to graduate from high school is likely to be economically disastrous.


White, S. W., & Kelly, F. D. (2010). The school counselor’s role in school dropout prevention. Journal of Counseling & Development, 88, 227–235.

Bridgeland, J. M., Dilulio, J. J., & Morison K. B. (2006). The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts.