Educators and parents need to understand that there are three huge predictors of why kids drop out of school.
I am a teacher of 9th grade students in a “regular” learning level or average level of study. In this case it is in Algebra, which as we know is a sequential learning subject; meaning one lesson builds upon the next lesson – literally. Math is also a core academic course required for graduation.
The parents come from Columbia and want their child, Matthew, to visit their hometown and does so each holiday break. Instead of taking two weeks, the family stays three weeks missing the first week of the new semester. Math is a weak subject for their child and now with Algebra, Matthew cannot keep up with his new equations upon returning. The “homework” was provided by the teacher for the holidays however, his family really does not know how to do this “new” Math. Along comes the first big Math test of the semester and Matthew fails. Then the State Assessment Tests role around, and his lack of Math skills lower his overall grade. It did not help that Matthew also had a record of misbehavior. His frustration turned to anger and he would now talk back to teachers and come in “tardy” for his Math class and other classes.
Mid-way through 9th grade, Matthew is fully frustrated and has learned to dislike school. He frequently tells his parents he does not feel good and needs to stay home. Plus Matthew now begins hanging around friends who also have learning challenges and many have openly stated they wanted to quit school. Matthew’s continual misbehavior eventually led to suspension.
There is the cycle: absenteeism leads to course failure, which gradually leads to behavior problems. Matthew will probably drop out of school is this cycle continues. Now let’s bring in interventions to turn this around.
Taken in part from: Child Trends DATABANK – High School Dropout Rates, November 2015
9th grade example provided by Lynn Gray – B.A., M.S.