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Rice University Study Looks Into Predictors For Student Drop Outs

Turns out the biggest predictors that tell if a student will drop out already happens by freshman year.

It’s one of the most basic goals in education – making sure students graduate high school.

But it can be difficult to predict which students are at risk of dropping out.

A new study from Rice University’s Houston Education Research Consortium sheds light on those factors.

Consider the Class of 2014 in the Houston Independent School District. Eleven percent never made it to graduation and were labeled as dropping out.

Turns out the biggest predictors of their dropping out already happened by freshman year.

“So those were being overage for their grade level in ninth grade and having a disciplinary action in eighth grade,” said Amanda Bancroft, a graduate student at Rice and co-author of the research brief.

She said that the new research shows not just what indicated a student would drop out, but how strongly it predicted that. So freshmen who were two years older than their peers were three times more likely to leave.

And students were twice as likely to drop out if they had any discipline incident in eighth grade or got an F in eighth grade.

Bancroft said that research underscores that educators and policymakers need to intervene early on in a student’s career to make sure they graduate. And for HISD leaders, it can help them pinpoint where exactly interventions are needed. 

“These patterns emerge in middle school and even well before middle school, in elementary school, and sort of that long process of disengagement and behavioral issues and getting low grades and not being up to standard in certain subjects really starts well before they ever reach high school,” she said.

Read the entire report here.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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