This paper examines the high school dropout phenomenon from a sociological perspective. Specifically, the paper reviews studies explicating the demographic parameters of dropout, reasons for dropout, incentives given to schools, principals, teachers, administrations, and other pertinent personnel for helping students at-risk of dropout to remain in school, and dropout prevention programs and projects. The purpose of the paper is to compile a profile of the essential factors involved in and effecting high school dropout.
Concerning high school dropout, Ponessa has noted that in the country as a whole, 71% of all students receive a high school diploma by age 18 years; the remainder of these students (29%) are primarily dropouts. Ponessa further reports that, at least in urban schools, there is a tendency for dropouts to be at higher risk if they are male and/or members of minority ethnic groups.
Howley and Huang have noted that national statistics on dropout rates are of three types: (1) event rates reporting the percentage of students who left high school without finishing work toward a diploma in a single year; (2) status rates reporting the percentage of the population of a given age range who have not finished high school or are not enrolled; and
(3) cohort rates reporting what happens to a single group of students over time.
In general, the authors state, that these statistics evidence differences in dropout among youth in central cities, suburban areas, and rural areas. Specifically, statistics indicate that the dropout problem is most severe in central cities, least severe in suburban areas, with non-metro areas in the middle. Measured by either event or status rates, Hispanic youth have the highest national dropout rate among ethnic groups. African Americans have the second highest rate, and Whites the lowest.
Wittenberg conducted an extensive review of the existing literature on characteristics of youth...