Geared toward educators, administrators, and policymakers, this What Works Clearinghouse practice guide provides recommendations that focus on reducing high school dropout rates. Strategies presented include identifying and advocating for at-risk students, implementing programs to improve behavior and social skills, and keeping students engaged in the school environment.
This What Works Clearinghouse practice guide provides school educators and administrators with four evidence-based recommendations for reducing dropout rates in middle and high schools and improving high school graduation rates. Each recommendation provides specific, actionable strategies; examples of how to implement the recommended practices in schools; advice on how to overcome potential obstacles; and a description of the supporting evidence.
Facts and figures on drop outs, including rates and demographics.
America’s Promise Alliance
Grad Nation Campaign with drop out facts, information, tools, and other resources.
National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
School dropout prevention information and strategies for educators.
National High School Center- Approaches to Dropout Prevention
Heeding Early Warning Signs with Appropriate Interventions: This report provides information on who is dropping out, risk factors, how to predict potential risk, Early Warning Data Systems, best practices in schools, and highlights dropout prevention programs.
National Dropout Prevention Center- Dropout Risk Factors and Exemplary Programs
2007 report by Cathy Hammond et al. Includes extensive lists of risk factors for dropping out, as well as lists of evidence-based programs and promising practices to prevent dropout.
Civic Enterprises - The Silent Epidemic
Perspectives of High School Dropouts: 2006 report including graduation rates, who is dropping out and why, and plans and policies to support our students.
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
Preventing Dropout and Promoting School Completion.
The Role of Parents in Dropout Prevention: Strategies that Promote Graduation and School Achievement.
Early Warning Indicators and Systems
National High School Center - Developing Early Warning Systems to Identify Potential High School Dropouts
A report on student dropout which summaries research on early warning indicators and provides information on both school-level and district-level early warning systems. Specific information can be found for indicators to look for and how to calculate these, building a system and using it to target interventions, and monitoring progress in the school.
Alliance for Excellent Education- Using Early-Warning Data to Improve Graduation Rate
A policy brief by Lyndsay Pinkus on Early-Warning data and EWI systems, using data to develop strategies to intervene, and a discussion of policies to support EWI implementation.
Journal Research Articles
CSCORE does not endorse any of the following research studies. Instead, our goal is to present you with the latest research being conducted. It is up to you to decide if the study is reliable and valid.
Education and Social Inclusion: An Evaluation of a Dropout Prevention Intervention
Balenzano, C., Moro, G., & Cassibba, R. (2019). Education and social inclusion: an evaluation of a dropout prevention intervention. Research on Social Work Practice, 29(1), 69-81.
A Qualitative Study of School Social Workers’ Roles and Challenges in Dropout Prevention
Webber, K. C. (2018). A qualitative study of school social workers’ roles and challenges in dropout prevention. Children & Schools, 40(2), 82-90.
School Counselors' Role in Dropout Prevention and Credit Recovery
Tromski-Klingshirn, D., & Miura, Y. (2017). School counselors' role in dropout prevention and credit recovery. Journal of School Counseling, 15(4), n4.
Examining Adverse Childhood Experiences Among Students Repeating the Ninth Grade: Implications for School Dropout Prevention
Iachini, A. L., Petiwala, A. F., & DeHart, D. D. (2016). Examining adverse childhood experiences among students repeating the ninth grade: Implications for school dropout prevention. Children & Schools, 38(4), 218-227.
Evaluating the Impact of a Summer Dropout Prevention Program for Incoming Freshmen Attending an Under-Resourced High School
Vera, E., Shriberg, D., Alves, A., Montes de Oca, J., Reker, K., Roche, M., ... & Rau, E. (2016). Evaluating the impact of a summer dropout prevention program for incoming freshmen attending an under-resourced high school. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 60(2), 161-171.
A High School Dropout Prevention Program for At-Risk Students
Wallace, C. M. (2016). A high school dropout prevention program for at-risk students (Doctoral dissertation, Walden University).
Dropout Prevention Intervention With Secondary Students: A Pilot Study of Project GOAL
Wexler, J., Pyle, N., & Fall, A. M. (2015). Dropout prevention intervention with secondary students: A pilot study of project GOAL. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 59(3), 142-152.
Dropout Prevention in Middle and High Schools: From Research to Practice
Wilkins, J., & Bost, L. W. (2016). Dropout prevention in middle and high schools: From research to practice. Intervention in School and Clinic, 51(5), 267-275.
A Network Perspective on Dropout Prevention in Two Cities
Wells, R., Gifford, E., Bai, Y., & Corra, A. (2015). A network perspective on dropout prevention in two cities. Educational Administration Quarterly, 51(1), 27-57.
Do We Know Who Will Drop Out? A Review of the Predictors of Dropping Out of High School: Precision, Sensitivity, and Specificity
Bowers, A.J., Sprott, R., & Taff, S.A. (2013). Do we know who will drop out? A review of the predictors of dropping out of high school: Precision, sensitivity, and specificity. The High School Journal, 96(2), 77-100.
Effect of the Transcendental Meditation Program on Graduation, College Acceptance and Dropout Rates for Students Attending an Urban Public High School
Colbert, R.D. (2013). Effect of the transcendental meditation program on graduation, college acceptance and dropout rates for students attending an urban public high school. Education, 133(4), 495–501.
Organizing Schools to Address Early Warning Indicators (EWIs): Common Practices and Challenges
Davis, M., Herzog, L., & Legters, N. (2013). Organizing schools to address Early Warning Indicators (EWIs): Common practices and challenges. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 18, 84-100.
Abstract and Journal Access
The ABCs of Keeping On Track to Graduation: Research Findings from BaltimoreMac Iver, M.A., & Messel, M. (2013). The ABCs of keeping on track to graduation: Research findings from Baltimore. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 18, 50-67.
Longitudinal Predictors of High School Completion
Barry, M., & Reschly, A.L. (2012). Longitudinal predictors of high school completion. School Psychology Quarterly, 27(2), 74-84.
Abstract and Journal Access
School Dropout Indicators, Trends, and Interventions for School Counselors
Dockery, D. J. (2012). School dropout indicators, trends, and interventions for school counselors. Journal of school counseling, 10(12), n12.
Dropout Prevention: Recommendations for School Counselors
Blount, T. (2012). Dropout prevention: Recommendations for school counselors. Journal of School Counseling, 10(16), 1-33.
The Challenge of Improving Urban High School Graduation Outcomes: Findings from a Randomized Study of Dropout Prevention Efforts
Mac Iver, M. A. (2011). The challenge of improving urban high school graduation outcomes: Findings from a randomized study of dropout prevention efforts. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR), 16(3), 167-184.
Dropout Prevention and Intervention Programs: Effects on School Completion and Dropout Among School‐Aged Children and Youth
Wilson, S. J., Tanner‐Smith, E. E., Lipsey, M. W., Steinka‐Fry, K., & Morrison, J. (2011). Dropout prevention and intervention programs: Effects on school completion and dropout among school‐aged children and youth. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 7(1), 1-61.
The School Counselor’s Role in School Dropout Prevention
White, S.W., & Kelly, F.D. (2010). The school counselor’s role in school dropout prevention. Journal of Counseling & Development, 88(2), 227-235.
Abstract and Journal Access
A Research and Development Framework for the School Drop-Out Problem
Lawson, H.A. (2009). A research and development framework for the school drop-out problem. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion 2(1), 56-67.
Dropout Policies and Trends for Students With and Without Disabilities
Kemp, S.E. (2006). Dropout policies and trends for students with and without disabilities. Adolescence, 41(162), 235-250.
Abstract and Journal Access
Books & Book Chapters
Hines, E. M., Singleton II, P., Hines, M. R., Ángeles, S. L., Wathen, B. J., & Brown Jr, D. (2022). Factors Impacting Postsecodany transitions for black students. In E. Hines & L. Owens (Eds.), Equity-Based Career Development and Postsecondary Transitions: An American Imperative. (163-184). Information Age Publishing.
Reschly, A. L. (2020). Dropout prevention and student engagement. In Student engagement (pp. 31-54). Springer, Cham.
Goss, C.L., & Andren, K.J. (2014). Dropout prevention: The Guilford practical intervention in the schools series. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Schargel, F.P., & Smink, J. (2013). Helping students graduate: A strategic approach to dropout prevention. New York, NY: Routledge.
Rumberger, R.W. (2011). Dropping out: Why students drop out of high school and what can be done about it. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Curriculum Materials & Programs
National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N) Effective Strategies
Fifteen effective strategies that NDPC/N found to have the most positive impact on dropout rates. Each strategy is highlighted and includes links with related resources and model programs.
National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N) Model Programs
NDPC/N database of research-based programs and information for schools and community programs to utilize. Browse all programs, or search by effective strategy or descriptors. Each program included is rated by the NDPC/N by level of evidence and summarizes program emphasis and plans.
What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Project GRAD Program Report Summary
Report summary for Project “Graduation Really Achieves Dreams” (GRAD). The full report can be downloaded from this website as well.
Talent Search Program
As part of the Federal TRIO Programs, Talent Search is a high school dropout prevention program designed to promote college enrollment and completion for low-income students.
What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Talent Search Program Report Summary
Report summary for Talent Search. The full report can be downloaded from this website as well.
Coca Cola Valued Youth Program
The Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) Coca Cola Valued Youth Program is a dropout prevention program that identifies middle and high school students at risk of dropping out. These students become tutors to elementary aged students that are also struggling in school.
Center on Instruction
The Center is a clearing house of information on research based best practices for instruction to improve achievement in schools.