School Dropouts


In the recent past there has been a rapid increase in the number of school dropouts in America. Every year approximately a third of the students in public high schools and almost a half of Native Americans and Hispanics fail to complete their high school education. According to research, the majority of these students dropout of school with less than two years to go. This worrying trend has in fact worsened over the past decades despite the fact that education was given priority in the public agenda. In this period the public was unaware of the seriousness of the problem of school dropouts and this has been as a result of lack of accurate data. However the results of these dropouts have been disastrous.

The idea of dropping out of school is hazardous for a student, this is because in most instances that student is likely to live in poverty, be unemployed, be imprisoned, rely on public assistance, become single parents or divorced. The nation at large suffers from these cases of dropouts as a result of higher costs related with increased social service, healthcare costs and increased cases of imprisonment.

From these disadvantageous personal and economic costs, this paper seeks to understand why are students dropping out of school and how do teachers impact student achievement? It is evident that most students in middle and elementary school are ambitious to complete high school and have aspirations in their lives. Therefore this paper seeks to shed more light on who are dropping out of school, why students are dropping out of school and how teachers could have assisted them to finish their high school education. Understanding the causes of school dropouts, will enable the parents, teachers and the government to formulate a comprehensive plan that can be implemented in eliminating this problem.


School Dropouts

Who is dropping out of school?

In the United States the high rates of school dropouts is a tragic problem that is affecting the countries high schools. This problem in the US inexplicably affects minority, urban, young people from low income families, and children from single parents who attend public high schools. having said this the problem is not unique to such young people only, nationally the rates of graduation range between 68% and 71 %, this means that approximately a third of the students in public high schools do not graduate in America. (Swanson, 2004) In the case of minority students such as Native American, blacks and Hispanics, their rate of completing high school drops to roughly 50%. The rates of graduation for Asians and whites are approximately 75% to 77%, with 25% of the students failing to complete school. The dropout and graduation rates differ considerably by region and state of the country, this difference can be as huge as 30%. The problem of dropping out spread out beyond major cities and into rural areas, towns and suburbs. (Balfanz & Legters, 2006)

In the year 2003, approximately 3.5 million potential students between ages 16 and 25 did not acquire a high school diploma and were not enrolled in schools. Almost 2000 schools in the country that have low rates of graduation are found in roughly 50 big cities and 15 of which are in the south western and southern states. In over 20 of these cities, three quarters of students in these schools go to public high schools whereby the graduation rate is below 60%. This disastrous cycle has deteriorated in the past decades despite reforms in education being a main priority in the agenda of the public. Some researchers are predicting that this problem might increase dramatically by 2020 unless crucial steps are taken to improve the situation.( Marcus & Green, 2005)

Nevertheless the people are completely unaware of the seriousness of this matter because of lack of accurate data, by overestimating the rates of graduation and underestimating the rates of dropouts. It is difficult for most schools in America to tell at any particular point the number of absent and present students in any day and how many graduates successfully or how many dropouts or fails to graduate. (Kaufman, 1992)


School Dropouts

Causes of school dropouts

While taking into account that most students understand the significance of education, the step by a student to drop out of school is a very personal and complex matter and relates to the student himself, their school, community and family. The choice to drop out is personal and it reveals the unique circumstances in life, it is usually a slow course of disengagement from school. However there is no sole reason that can be pinpointed as the cause of school dropouts for all cases, there seems to be a set of common causes of school dropouts that arise in relation to the real life events, academic environment, absence of personal motivation and other external sources of guidance and motivation. According to most students they are not motivated properly, they face academic challenges, they view school as boring and they are faced with real world events. (Rumberger, 2001)

School related problems:

These problems are main causes of school dropouts, most students complain they drop out of school because classes are not interesting and also the people they relate to are also not interesting. Many of these students generally don’t like school and complain that they do not get along well with their teachers. Other student say that repeating a class and poor grades lead to the lack of interest by such students. Many students complain that teachers are not involved and they only stand in front of the class and just lecture without caring to involve students and that such teachers only want to complete their day and go.

Lack of interest emerges from the fact that most students complained that they are forced to take up classes that have not bearing or use with respect to their ambitions and consider such classes as useless to their lives. Students need more support to perform better in class and this support is also useful in connecting them to what they are being taught in classroom and how they will apply that in their future careers. (Jeannie, 1985)

Lack of motivation on students


School Dropouts

Students generally are considered to have very high expectations of themselves, however such high expectations are not matched with the low expectations that adults have on them. Therefore students do feel inspired or motivated to work hard due to the boring nature of their classes and the lack of involvement by teachers, many students therefore feel that they go to school just because they have to and not because they expect to learn anything. To them school is irrelevant because teachers just tell them what to do in contrast to getting them involved in the class work. (Charles, 1998)

Most high schools in the US have in place a system of identifying low performing students and move them to classes that are of lower level where the work is unchallenging. Research shows that the teacher’s expectations on their students has an influence on whether the students drop out of school and the performance of students. This lack of motivation leads to the failure to do home work as a result of the lack of motivation and the low expectations that the teachers have on the students. There is researched evidence that clearly shows students who fail to do or do little homework have a higher chance of dropping out of school.

In as much as teachers have low expectations on their students, the students on the other hand have very high expectations of themselves. Most students acknowledge the fact that if they were to add more effort in their studies they can graduate successfully. The lack of challenge on the part of the student, less homework and studying, lower academic standards leads to problems in attendance and boredom prevent students from meeting their high expectations.

Academic challenges and Absenteeism

Most students acknowledge that failing in school is one of the major reasons that they drop out of school. Such students could not keep up with school work, missed school many days and could not catch up with the rest. Such absenteeism in middle and elementary school leads to the dropouts in high schools as the students are not adequately prepared, this is because it is difficult for them to pass from one grade to the other as the requirements for graduating in high school were extremely difficult for them.


School Dropouts

These students give reason that tests are too difficult for them and that their teachers are unavailable to guide them and this leads to the difficulty of passing their exams. The most academically challenged students in most cases are likely to blame the teachers or schools for their lack of effort in helping them when facing problems in understanding or learning materials being taught to them. (Rumberger, 2001)

For the students that attend classes poorly for grounds other than being ill are also likely to drop out more. Due to absenteeism such students lag behind the rest of the class mates and if this continues it results in low self esteem and this raises the chances of school drop outs. (Rumberger, 2001)

Family related causes

It is common for many people to believe that he high rates of dropouts in school is because students who fail leave school in order to avoid admitting that they cannot perform better. In as much as this may be true in some cases, the choice to drop out of school can be as a result of the personal circumstances that face a student which are not school related. Such reasons include; a student might get a job and starts earning money and this makes it hard to balance between job and school, others get pregnant while other are forced to pull out of school to take care of a member of their family.

For the girls, the issue of pregnancy is a major contributor to their higher dropout rates; this is because many young ladies are unable to balance the stress of school and young motherhood. In 1998 girls contributed to 60% of all school dropouts globally, their enrollment rates are generally equal with the boys but as they approach adolescence, the girls dropped out faster than the boys. This is indirectly and directly related to the reproductive behaviors of girls like earlier sexual maturity. (Roderick, 1993)


School Dropouts

The other reason of dropping out of school is the need to take care of tasks at home or siblings as the parents are unavailable or are out working. As a result most students fail to focus or attend school. Such students have the belief, potential and will to work harder and graduate if they have the chance to be in school. These student propose that if their school demanded more from them or provided them with the necessary support, the would work harder. It is clear that schools in the US do not have programs to provide specialized attention to these class of students and if present most students probably don’t know about them and thus they resort to dropping out of school.

Excess freedom

As students are growing up they are exposed to more options and excessive freedom, this leads some not to attend school or classes. These options makes it easy for the student to skip classes and indulge in activities outside school and consequently they drop out. This freedom can be related to the lack of rules, order and discipline in high schools as compared to middle and elementary schools. Laxity on the part of teachers in making sure that students attend classes is also a contributing factor.

Most students say that the newly acquired freedom in high school exposes students to many things in their lives which pull them away from school; such things make it more attractive to leave than to stay and attend classes. They say they are at freedom to wake up late, hangout in the hallways and no one asks them due to the lack of rules and order.


School Dropouts

The law in many states only requires students to stay in school up to the time they reach the age of 16 or 17 years old and most of them allow multiple exemptions. Such laws hence give the student the ability to drop out of school whenever they feel like either because their parents sign them out or as a result of them attaining that age. (John, 1984)

Failure to identify early warning signs

Dropping out of school is not an abrupt act, rather it is a slow course of disengagement both socially and academically irrespective of the complex individual circumstances that might exists. The decision is in most cases influenced by the perception of a student of the expectations of high schools and the individual’s earlier experiences in school. The idea to drop out of school is not made by waking up one morning and deciding that you have had enough. (Jacobs & stein, 1997)

There are clear signs that a student portrays 1 to 3 years before dropping school, such includes the diminished interest in school. According to research signs of dropping school can be evident as early as when a student is in elementary school. Students show these signs by skipping classes, failure to wake up early, missing school and take a lot of time during lunch breaks. Other vital warning signs include; behavioral and discipline problems, lack of participation in school and class activities, low grades, frequent transfers between schools, repetition of classes and students who have a lot of difficulty with the transition to high schools.

The failure to identify such early warning signs by parents and teachers, greatly contributes to the increase in the rates of drop outs. This is because by working on those warning signs has the potential of helping them to guide students before it is too late.


School Dropouts

Lack of involvement by parents

The involvement of parents and the awareness of what the children do is very crucial in the development of a child. However, most parents due to numerous reasons such as the demands of everyday lives fail to get involved with their children progress in education. Most parents have little or no information about the grades of their children and their intention to leave school. The busy work schedules keep the parents in the dark on the activities of their children in school, and only get involved when they realize their children are about to drop out of school.

The parents have a role to play in terms of supervising their children at home with their school work; most parents assume that the teacher is responsible for school work and there is no need for them to supervise their kids at home. What is even more worrying is the fact that schools may at times fail to contact a parent when a student fails to attend school. This give the students the chance to drop out of school without the knowledge of the parent.

Poverty as a cause of dropouts

In major cities throughout United States, the effect of poverty on the education system is overwhelming. For instance in Los Angeles, there is a movement called white flight that is now very popular not only for whites but the middle class Americans of all ethnic races and background who have run away from the inner cities. This division is so invasive that even schools now are isolated today as compared to three decades when this isolation begun.

According to national statistics, they demonstrate that students that come from families with low income are roughly two and a half times more probable to drop out of school as compared to families with middle income and approximately ten and a half times probable than students from families with high income. In many districts nowadays, only students from lower socio economic status attend private schools the rest from upper social classes attend private schools, or are in schools which are distant to the upper middle and middle class schools normally found in suburbs. Most students from a lower social economic status do not access quality education


School Dropouts

and are poor in writing, reading, technology, and math. The do not own personal computers, don’t have own rooms and live in conditions that are overcrowded. Many of these students feel anger and anxiety in their lives and oftenly express their anger to teachers, parents, police and any form of authority. (Iceland, 2003)

Recent research has established that in as much as the rates of unemployment are widespread in inner cities, and though there is a variety of school programs and anti violence measures, self help programs do not succeed because they lack an attached job program to either of them. In Poor neighborhoods, when girls and boys drop out of school they unfortunately get into activities that destroy their lives like crime and drugs.

Another consequence of poverty is that students are encouraged to drop out of schools so as to work by their parents. For instance if a family earns a low salary, a 17 year old daughter or son could work at minimum wage and this will significantly add to the total income of the household. The argument for this perspective is that, if a child is not performing well in school then it is reasonable for that child to take up a job and keep busy from the drugs and crime while at the same time supporting the family financially.

In addition schools and teachers in lower social economic class are to a large extent blamed for the failures by these families. The teachers are given way too much responsibility by such families; a student spends very few hours at school and they can only instill few values if they are not taught right from home.

The school can also not inspire students to study, attend school and succeed if at home there is lack of education and where the community itself advocates for anti intellectualism. The role of teachers has increased disproportionately in comparison to the low expectations that is placed on parents by the society; therefore if parents are ill equipped to tame their children, certainly the school cannot be expected to work miracles.


School Dropouts

Teachers in schools with lower social economic families quickly burn out and get demoralized, this is because they are unsure what the society and parents expect from them. In as much as some teachers are sincere and wish to educate and reach students, the society advocates for anti intellectualism, the intervention program, the teacher and the school that promotes education will be out of line with reality.(James, 1961)


Disability is one of the contributing factor to dropping out of school; according to research children with disabilities have a higher rate of drop out as compared to those without such disabilities. Such disabilities take various forms such as mental retardation, deaf or blindness, learning disabilities, language or speech impairment, emotional disturbance, visual impairment, autism, hearing disabilities, orthopedic impairments and brain injury. Among the most susceptible populations for school dropouts are students with disabilities. even though the number of dropouts of students with disabilities decreased slightly between 1993 and 2001 from 45 percent to 41 percent, such students display a worrying low rates of graduation as compared to the other students in general education. For instance between 1998 and 1999, approximately only 46% of the students with disabilities completed school with a standard diploma as compared to roughly 75% of the general students population.(Kaufman, 1998)

In literature the rates of dropout of students with disabilities differ widely, however, students with behavioral or emotional disorders or learning disabilities are constantly the highest rates of dropouts among students in general and also among special education students. According to recent government reports, the rates of dropouts among disabled students show rates of 65% for emotional and behavioral disabilities, 40% for speech or language disorders and 39% for learning disabilities. In the general population, these figures differ by ethnicity and race. Asian students have the least rates of dropouts at 28% in the population of students that have disabilities, followed by Hispanic students at 43.5%, then black American students at 44.5% and the Native Americans at 52.2%.


School Dropouts


Race or ethnicity is another cause of dropout sin schools; according to research African American and Hispanics are at much higher risk of dropping out of school as compared to whites. Hispanics have higher rates of dropouts as compared to African American and white students. In 2002, Approximately 30% of all school dropouts were Hispanics immigrants who were not born in the US. The higher rates of dropouts among the immigrants lead to the higher rates of all Hispanics. Of all the Hispanics aged between 16 and 24 years and born outside the US, 41% dropped out which is two times the number of the dropouts of Hispanics born in the united states. However united states born Hispanics are probable to drop out of school as compared to non-Hispanics. (Duke, 2005)

In general the rates of dropouts for blacks, Hispanics and whites have reduced between 1980 and 2007. nevertheless, during this period each year the rates of dropouts have been lower for blacks and whites as compared to Hispanics.(Richard, 2003) For each of the members of these races the reasons for dropping out of school are different, whites give their reasons as alienation from school as compared to Hispanics and Africans of both sexes. For African Americans male students the say that the reason for dropping out is due expulsion or suspension as compared to all other male students from other races. African American female and Hispanics cite family related issues as their reasons as compared to the white females. (Barnes, 1992)

Surprisingly according to research, most students who have dropped out have plans to resume studies and this differed across gender and race/ethnicity. Both sexes of white students who drop out plan to do equivalence tests. For the Hispanics, the majority wish to be transferred to other high schools and for the African American many plans to go back to regular classes to graduate. (Barnes, 1992)

Consequences of dropping out of school


School Dropouts

in current world, there have been rapid advances in technology that have led to the increased demand of a labor force that is highly skilled. This trend has made high school education become the minimum requirement for one to enter in the labor market. This has necessitated that all workers should have at least completed high school and has become a precondition for entry into any level of jobs. Therefore the economic consequences of dropping out of school without any diploma are harsh.

In this post industrial age, workers need to have at least a diploma in order to compete in the labor market. As compared to students who graduate, dropouts are more likely to be unemployed, single parents, divorced, living poverty, on death row, imprisoned and dependent on public assistance.(Bruce, 2005)

On average, a college graduate will earn $ 1 million more than a dropout over his life time and high school graduate will earn approximately $9,200 more than the same dropout. High school dropouts are in most cases not able to support themselves, for instance in 2004 drop outs in high school were more than 3 times likely to be unemployed than college graduates. Dropouts are 2 times more likely to find themselves in poverty as compared to high school graduates. According to a recent study the dropouts who manage to get employed get jobs that are low paying or unskilled jobs which usually offer little opportunity for growth career wise. The decision to drop out of school impairs severely an individual’s earning potential and job prospects, this consecutively causes other indirect secondary problems. (Sickmund, 1999)

There seems to exist a correlation between good health and education, regardless of the age, the more educated one is the healthier that person is. For Americans aged 45 years old and above, graduates from colleges are two times likely to report being in very good or excellent health as compared to dropouts.

The high rates of school dropouts not only affect a person’s future, but it also affects the community profoundly and the nation at large as result of the loss of labor from productive workers, revenues and earnings they could have produced by engaging in employment. There


School Dropouts

is also the high cost from social and health services and also the cost of imprisonment. According to research in 2001, out of 10 adults who are dropouts at least 4 are receiving some form of government assistance. This increased dependence on public assistance is in part a contributor to the increase in the drop out rates of young women and are likely to have children. They are also more likely to become single parents as compared to those who graduate with high school diplomas.

From the frustrations and stresses that individuals have as a result of dropping out of school have social consequences as well. A very large percentage of the dropouts normally end as death row inmates and prisoners. A dropout is 8 times more likely to end up in prison or jail as compared to a graduate with a high school diploma; other research findings say that approximately 82% of all inmates in America are dropouts from high schools. Studies have revealed that the lifetime cost on the nation is approximately between $1.7 and $2.3 million for each youth that drops out and later engages in drugs or a life of crime. (Ziedenberg, 2003)

From this information it is clear that the cost of dropouts is enormous to the country. Nearly every middle and elementary school students have dreams of going to high school and later to join colleges. According to a survey by the national governors association and MTV in 2005, 87% of students hope to go to colleges. However, these students continue to drop out in shocking numbers, this means that a lot needs too be done by all in an attempt to curb this disaster.

The impact of teachers on student achievement.

In an attempt to solve the problem of dropping out of students, there is need to closely investigate what or who is responsible from the problem of dropouts and how this problem can be fixed. The quality of a teacher is believed to be very crucial for the performance of students; parents and school administrators view teacher quality as important to the achievement of a student. However there is no clear cut evidence that link achievement and the teacher characteristics. Most studies that try to establish this relation have generated little evidence to suggest that students achieve better learning when the teachers have desirable characteristics. (Hanushek, 1986)


School Dropouts

While there is no easy way out of the dropout crisis, there are a number of measures that can be put in place at home and within the school so as to improve the student performance and consequently reduce dropout rates. In as much as the fight against school dropouts depend on the teachers, the state and parents too have a role to play in the in this issue. the teacher has the role of trying to reach out to students who are likely to drop out and listen to their concerns, views, experiences, ideas and life circumstances so as to try to reform them and get them back to class. The following are some of the ways the teacher can have an impact on the achievement of a student;

Improvement of curricula.

The teacher should seek to teach subjects that are interesting and seem relevant to the student’s lives. Teachers also should be more interesting and should always try to narrow down to the specific needs of each individual, give proper instructions, involve the students in class and giving regular feed back to the students.

The teacher needs to illustrate to the students the connection that exists between their interest and what they view as relevant. If school could provide chances for real world learning like service learning projects and internships there is a better chance that students will get more engaged and interested in class work. Studies have also shown that clarifying the connection between getting a job and school work has the potential to improve the student’s performance and consequently reduce dropout rates.

Successful teaching requires that each of the student is treated differently as opposed to using the one size fits all approach that is very common in schools presently. Options that teachers can offer to such students include different high schools that give students individualized plans. This approach has the potential of improving the performance of students at risk of dropping out. Other options can entail providing a rigorous curriculum under the traditional structures which will prepare the students for college. The use of theme-based schools like those that concentrate on technology or science are also useful in preparation of students for the future.


School Dropouts

The establishments of smaller communities of learning that give personalized instruction are useful in engaging students in study. Such communities relate the material being studied with the student’s lives and goals and entail the interdisciplinary collaboration with teachers.

What is evident from this approach is that teachers should offer numerous choices to the students in an attempt to make education more relevant to the goals and lives of the students, to provide them with personalized attention, to have big expectations from them and to always address the circumstances and special needs promptly so as to ensure there is improved performance and reduced dropouts.

Improvement of instruction and support

Teachers can implement a number of intensive assistance strategies and supplemental services in an effort to improve the performance of students and especially those struggling in school. Such efforts involve peer and school counseling, tutoring, mentorship, service learning, internships, attendance monitoring, summer school programs and double class periods. Such efforts have the potential to make a big difference in the lives of potential dropouts. These efforts together with best practices literacy programs that are intensive should be provided to students who are faced with problems in learning.

Teachers need to enhance their collaboration with government agencies and community based institutions to make sure that the students receive the necessary support. Teachers also need to account for the support needs of special needs students like students with disabilities and pregnant students.


School Dropouts

It is overwhelming and challenging to find the right programs for support. It is important that the student is familiar with the teacher. Teachers should develop adult advocacy programs at school; such programs will involve other staff members or teachers themselves, counselors and coaches. Such adult advocates should always be present in schools to respond to the needs of each student and this approach should be embedded in the school’s culture. Advocacy is not a one off event; rather it is an attitude of caring and mentorship. It is recommended by each student should have a mentor whether teacher or a member of staff to assist a student to personalize the experience of education. This will help identify personal and academic crises earlier; this will help improve the performance as the student feels more comfortable in tackling educational matters.

Importance of early warning signs

The teacher can have an impact on the student’s performance by observing the behavior of students in class, early warning signs that are portrayed by students can be able to help the teachers identify where the students have a problem and correct it before it is too late. The process of dropping out as discussed earlier is not abrupt; rather it is a slow process of disengagement. As such the predicative factors that indicate poor performance are show early in the life of a students, such factors includes; absenteeism, poor performance academically, misbehavior and grade retention.

Teachers should therefore develop early warning systems in their schools to help them to spot students who seem not likely to perform well in school. This system should not only attend to those who stay in one school, but should also help students who are transferred from other schools so as to make sure they are not stranded in the numerous school systems that they are enrolled. Such systems need to be developed in such a way that those warning systems are able to activate appropriate support and follow up until the students gets back on track. An example of the early warning system relates to absenteeism, each day a school should keep a reliable record of students who are absent and should notify the guardian or parent instantly and take the appropriate action against such students to prevent similar incidences. In addition it is also crucial to establish the reasons that led that student not to attend school in the first place.


School Dropouts

Development of a School environment that promotes learning

Teachers can impact the achievements of students through the climate they create for their students. In a disciplined class environment the students will be more attentive, absenteeism will reduce and their performance will be improved. Students also need to feel safe in the classroom if any proper learning is to take place, teachers should not allow any kind of violence in school. Communication between the student and teachers is also very crucial; it helps both parties to express their ideas more effectively. Teachers can impact on students’ performance by creating clear channels of communication.

Diverse learning environments can be formed in the classroom to promote better learning. Community centered and assessment centered environments have the potential to impact students. Teachers should create and explore different environments of learning in an attempt to promote active learning and meet students’ needs.

In assessment centered environments, students are given the chance to demonstrate knowledge and improve their skills continually; this can be attained through regular encouragement and feedback by teachers. The teacher should constantly revise writing products, mid-unit tests and projects. In as much as both summative and formative assessments are important, the formative assessment should be used more regularly this is because they can be used to gauge the understanding of concepts by a student mid stream. Formative assessments can take a number of forms; one such form is individual student conferences, in this type a student is asked to present on behalf a group that they have been working with. The other form is the students portfolio where by the progress of a student throughout the year is showcased, the teacher writes comments on assignments or where a student is required to explain the reasons that defend the answers they give in a class discussion.

In community centered environments, the teacher seeks to establish either a cooperative or competitive community in a classroom. This is achieved by looking at the several aspects of community; the teacher should encourage students to help each other in class work and should consider the cultural differences of students in an effort to create a community environment.


School Dropouts

Parent engagement strategies

It is evident that teachers cannot work alone in an attempt to improve the performance of students; they also need the support of parents. The teacher should seek ways of involving parents in matters of their children education. Constant communication between parents and teachers need to be strengthened and teachers should continually invite parents to be part of the solutions in schools.

According to studies, parents who are engaged in the lives of their children by regulating and monitoring their academic performance, discussing their problems, promoting individual decision making and getting more involved in their children school work have improved performance and decrease the chances of dropping out. Communication between teachers and parents is fundamental for such a coordination to work effectively. Communication is important in exchanging of information on problems and school performance, monitoring the student activities and in ensuring that early and quick solutions are found for student’s problems. (Karen & Houtenville, 2005)

Teachers should communicate feedback to parents about their children grades, missed assignments, class participation and other issues that affects students’ performance. In as much as teachers cannot solve the family structure weaknesses, they need to develop and recognize ways to address different circumstances that exists in different types of families. Teachers should come up with ways to bridge family-school differences, such as in culture, educational attainment and language; this will involve the creation of new educational structures or improvement of existing schools so as to incorporate parent involvement and home-school communication. (Sara & Astone, 1991)

The other way that a teacher can strengthen the connection between home and school is the development of personalized graduation plans. This will enable parents to become aware of the


School Dropouts

precise needs of their children so as to take the necessary steps to ensure that these needs are satisfied.

Use of technology by teachers to impact performance

There are a variety of technologies that teachers can use to enhance and support learning. Each kind of technology serves a different purpose and delivers a different type of content. For instance, email and word processing advances communication skills, spreadsheets and database programs support the development of organizational skills and soft wares for modeling helps students to understand math and science concepts.

In a classroom the technologies that a teacher can use includes simple tool based applications such as word to handheld computers, primary historical documents and scientific data in online repositories and two way distance learning.

Each kind of technology plays a different role in the learning of the student. As opposed to describing the effects of all types of technology like they were similar, teachers should think of the type of technology is currently used by students and for what purpose. This can be viewed in two ways there is the perspective that student learn from computers which means that technology is used in increasing the student’s basic knowledge and skills or as tutors, and the second perspective is whereby the students learn with computers which means that technology is used as a tool that is applied in numerous branches of the learning process. It is used as a resource to enable the students to develop research skills, creativity and high order thinking. (Kelley & Ringstaff, 2002).

Teacher Quality and student Achievement


School Dropouts

The quality of a teacher is very crucial for the achievement of a student, even though there is inconsistent and substantial evidence that propose that teacher’s credentials determine the student’s achievement. In attempting to measure accurately the variation in achievement of students as a result the characteristics of teachers that are both observable and unobservable it is important to look at the teacher fixed effects.

There is general consensus among students, parents and school administrators that the quality of a teacher is crucial to the achievement of student regardless of the lack of evidence to relate observable teacher characteristics and achievement. Studies that have tried to estimate the connection between teacher characteristics and achievement have generated little evidence to suggest that students have improved performance when the teachers possess desirable characteristics. (Hanushek, 1986)

This fact is more confusing as there is the upward bias because teachers with good credentials generally teach in schools with students who perform well. (Figlio, 1997). In light of this argument observers conclude that in as much as teacher’s quality is important, the differences in the quality of a teacher is determined by features that are impossible or difficult to measure. Researchers have thus concentrated on using matched teacher-student data to divide student achievement into a set of fixed effects and transferring significance to schools, teachers and individuals.

Although there is agreement that the recognition of fixed effects on teachers is important, there is lack of adequate data to establish this. Realistic identification of fixed effects on teachers entails the matching of teacher-student data whereby teachers and student achievement data is analyzed in multiple years.

Policy makers have illustrated the faith they have in the significance of teacher quality; this has been showed by the increased programs and funding whose goal is to improve the quality of teachers in low performing schools. Nevertheless, the majority of these schemes concentrate on increasing rewards to teachers who have credentials which have not been associated with


School Dropouts

student performance for example schooling certification and teacher exam scores. Rising of the quality of teachers is a vital means of improving achievement of students but the government should put up policies that will change their focus from qualifications to performance based pointers of teacher quality.


The problem of dropouts in the United States deserves large scale and immediate consideration from the public business communities, non profit organization, policy makers and educators. This paper has clearly illustrated the causes of drop outs in schools, its consequences on the individual, the state and the community at large. The paper has also illustrated the various ways through which the teacher impacts the students’ achievements. Among the leading causes of dropouts in America includes the lack of interest in class work, absenteeism, too much freedom, failing in school, and boring teachers. Other causes include poor socioeconomic background, disabilities, race/ethnicity, pregnancies and a lack of occupational aspirations by students. Some of these factors are interrelated and some cause others.

The role of addressing the high dropout rates is for policymakers, the state, parents and teachers. This paper has mainly stressed on the role of teachers in addressing this problem by looking at teachers’ impact the achievement of students. Teachers can impact the performance of students by improving of curricula, improvement of instruction and support, establishing parent engagement strategies, developing a school environment that promotes learning use of technology in teaching and identification of early warning signs. The paper finally discusses the impact of teacher quality on student achievement whereby there is the realization that the quality of teachers is a vital means of improving achievement of students but the government should put up policies that will change their focus from qualifications to performance based pointers of teacher quality.


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