Dropping Out of High School
IN chapter 3, we examined the relative achievement growth that occurs between grades 10 and 12 in public, Catholic, and other private schools. The principal focus was on achievement in the two areas of essential cognitive skills, verbal skills and mathematics skills. Levels of performance in these areas are important for future life, including college admission, as well as getting and keeping a job. But there is another outcome of high school that also has important consequences for a young person's future: completing high school, or failing to do so. In part, because of the credential that high school graduation constitutes for admission to further education or for getting a job, dropping out of high school has strong and long-term effects on a young person's life. And dropping out of high school is not an action that is disappearing from the American educational scene: the dropout rate among American youth has remained around 25 percent over the past fifteen years.
The extensive consequences for a young person of dropping out of high school, and its prevalence for a quarter of American youth, makes its investigation of special importance. We will begin this examination by considering those students who are not doing well in school. There are two general bases for predictions about what will happen to these