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Characteristics of Students at Risk and Why Students Drop Out (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Why Students Drop Out

Students drop out for a variety of reasons. Some have little family and peer encouragement and support for school success. Others have extenuating life circumstances; for example, they may have medical problems, take an outside job to help support the family, or get pregnant. Many simply become dissatisfied with school: They don’t do well in their classes, have trouble getting along with classmates, find the school environment too dangerous or restrictive, or perceive the curriculum to be boring and irrelevant to their needs (Hardre & Reeve, 2003; Portes, 1996; Raber, 1990; Rumberger, 1995; L. Steinberg et al., 1984). Sadly, teacher behaviors can enter into the picture as well, as the following dialogue between an interviewer (Ron) and two at-risk high school students (George and Rasheed) reveals:

Ron:  Why do you think someone drops out of school?

George:  I think people drop out of school cuz of the pressure that school brings them. Like, sometimes the teacher might get on the back of a student so much that the student doesn’t want to do the work. . . . And then that passes and he says, “I’m gonna start doing good. . . .” Then he’s not doing as good as he’s supposed to and when he sees his grade, he’s, “you mean I’m doin’ all that for nothin’? I’d rather not come to school.” . . .

Rasheed:  I think kids drop out of school because they gettin’ too old to be in high school. And I think they got, like, they think it’s time to get a responsibility and to get a job and stuff. And, like George says, sometimes the teachers, you know, tell you to drop out, knowing that you might not graduate anyway.

Ron:  How does a teacher tell you to drop out?

Rasheed:  No, they recommend you take the GED program sometimes. Like, some kids just say, “Why don’t you just take the GED. Just get it over with.” Then, job or something.

Ron:  You talked about a kid being too old. Why is a kid too old?

Rasheed:  Cuz he got left back too many times. (Farrell, 1990, p. 91)

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