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Reading List: Dropout Research and Prevention

**Rumberger, R. (2008, February). Solving California's Dropout Crisis. Santa Barbara, CA: UC Linguistic Minority Research Institute. Available at


This report offers a policy agenda for addressing the dropout crisis in California. It describes the nature of the dropout problem and an action plan for the state, districts, and schools to address the challenge and increase student success. The author recommends providing pressure on educators, policymakers, and the public to maintain a focus on the problem and to find solutions; and to build capacity for educators and educational institutions to address the problem.


Rumberger, R. & Ah Lim, S. (2008, October). Policy Brief 15: Why Students Drop Out of School: A Review of 25 Years of Research. Santa Barbara, CA: UC Linguistic Minority Research Institute. Available at


This policy brief synthesizes 25 years of existing research on dropouts. The report identifies two types of factors that predict whether students drop out or graduate from high school: a) individual characteristics of students, including educational performance, behaviors, attitude, and background and b) institutional characteristics of their families, schools, and communities. The review revealed that 1) there is no single factor that can account for a student dropping out, 2) student behaviors outside of school matter, 3) dropping out is a process that begins in early elementary school, and 4) family, school, and community context matters.


Kennelly, L. & Monrad, M. (2007, October). Approaches to Dropout Prevention: Heeding Early Warning Signs with Appropriate Interventions. Washington, DC: National High School Center. Available at


This report describes the research-based steps school systems can take to identify likely high school dropouts, as well as a variety of promising—though less studied—programs and interventions to remedy the dropout problem. The report cites key dropout indicators from research, including poor grades in core subjects, low attendance, failure to be promoted to the next grade, and disengagement in the classroom. The authors suggest that school systems focus dropout prevention efforts in the beginning of middle school, when they can reach high-risk students who are not yet failing academic subjects. The report states that interventions oriented around individual student needs that work in tandem with school-wide interventions hold promise for combating the nation’s dropout problem.


Partnership for Urban Education Research. (2008, July). Beyond the Numbers: Understanding California's High School Dropouts. Policy Analysis for California Education. Available at


This report outlines the recent efforts of the Partnership for Urban Education Research (PUER), a group of California’s six largest urban school districts. Looking specifically at the current crisis regarding the rate of high-school dropouts, the study 1) identifies the problems with dropout documentation, 2) offers a standardized method of computing cohort survival rates, and 3) presents current strategies for preventing dropouts. It closes with recommendations to the California Department of Education as it moves forward with the implementation of a student-level longitudinal data system.


**This document is considered a priority reading.