ACKNOWLEDGMENTS TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ii TABLE OF CONTENTS iii CHAPTER ONE 1 INTRODUCTION 1 Background 2 Problem Statement 12 Purpose of the Study 15 Research Questions 16 Scope of the Study 16 Limitations and Delimitations 17 Definition of Terms 20 Research Plan 21 CHAPTER TWO 25 LITERATURE REVIEW 25 Introduction 25 Overview 26 Institutional reasons for dropping out 39 School belonging and dropout rates 45 Special education services and dropout rates 48 Exit exams 50 Inclusion: Does it reduce dropout rates? 55 Teachers and inclusion 65 Dropout prevention programs 72 IEP programming 75 Transition programming 77 Programs attending to social and academic elements of student lives: Finn’s participation-identification model of school engagement-belonging 80 School belonging and engagement and special education 92 Case studies of best practice school engagement programs that have improved the retention level of special education students in high school 100 Conclusion 103 CHAPTER THREE 105 METHODOLOGY 105 Introduction 105 Research Questions 106 Design 107 Active Observation 113 Intensive Interview 115 Replication of the Study 117 The Researcher’s Role 118 Data Collection Procedures 118 In-depth Interviews 119 Qualitative Data Analysis 122 The Coding Process 123 Trustworthiness 127 Ethical Considerations 129 APPENDIX A 143 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION High School Dropout Concerns Educators, policy makers and researchers have consistently tied the achievement gap to the student dropout rate (Ladson-Billings, 2006). As a result, educators, parents, employers and policy makers have expressed concerned over the persistent high drop-out rate particularly among high school students (Burris & Welner, 2005). For instance, reports from the US Census Bureau...
For instance, reports from the US Census Bureau indicate that over the last 20 years or so, high school rates in the US have steadily declined to such an extent that it reached 90% (Barton, 2006). There has been a corresponding decline in labor force numbers indicating that fewer and fewer under-educated persons are entering the workforce (Lee and Mather, 2008).
Tyler and Lofstrom (2009) reviewed US student data and concluded that dropout rate consistently fluctuates between 22 and 25 percent. The Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) Research Center (2010) conducted a national report, which found that approximately 1.3 million youth drop out of high school every year. However, the White House (as cited in America’s Promise Alliance, 2009) reported the number as a slightly lower figure of 1.2 million. A quantitative review of statistics by Sum et al (2009) demonstrates that “the incidence of institutionalization problems among young high school dropouts was more than 63 times higher than among young four-year college graduates” (p. 9). The need for effective dropout prevention strategies is important because the increasingly significant gap between the student who leaves high school without earning his/her diploma and the high school graduate has increasingly widened since the 1970s with regard to career mobility, unemployment rates and wages.