A Look Back: “Study Reviews 25 Years Of Research Into What Helps Students Graduate – Here’s What They Found”

I thought new readers – and seasoned ones – might find it interesting if I started sharing my best posts over the years. You can see the full collection here.

This post was originally published in 2016:

Paul Bruno tweeted a link to an important new study (that is, unfortunately, behind a firewall) titled Factors That Promote High School Graduation: A Review of the Literature, by Jonathan F. Zaf, Alice Donlan, Aaron Ganning, Sarah E. Anderson, Ilana McDermott, Michelle Sedaka.

I read it, and here is my summary:

First, I highly recommend reading this study alongside last year’s report by the American’s Promise Alliance, which examined why students drop out (see the new survey on high school dropouts that is frustrating, if accurate). I think both studies complement each other – with this new study focusing on what helps students survive, while the previous study targets why they drop out. They are similar in many ways and different in a few others.

This new report has been revised:

Research from the past 25 years on high school graduation, focusing on US-based longitudinal studies on the elastic factors that predict graduation. Through this systematic research, we have identified 12 assets in individual, family, school, peer, and community contexts that predict high school graduation…

I don’t think anyone would be too surprised by what they found. I list them in the order they are discussed in the study. However, I don’t think researchers list them in order of importance. I could be wrong about that, but I can’t find anything in the article that indicates a strategic plan for what is discussed at the beginning, middle, and end:

1. Motivate the student, especially intrinsic motivations: It wasn’t a huge surprise to me, especially after I’ve written three books on the subject. See also the best posts about Motivating Students.

2. Student Participation: They define it as “behavioral (eg, attending class, completing tasks), emotional (eg, learning about school, liking the school), and/or cognitive (eg, taking a strategic approach to learning, curiosity). intellectual). See the best posts and articles about student engagement.

3. Young people’s expectations of “achievement”: In other words, do they expect that they are going to college. Check out the best resources to explain to students why they should pursue their academic career.

4. Do the students feel that they are in control of their own destiny? “Young people who believe they have control over their academic outcomes (i.e. locus of internal control) tend to do better in school and persist when they encounter difficulties.” This reminded me of Maria Konnikova’s recent article in The New Yorker where she writes that resilient people see themselves as the “orchestrator of their own destinies.” He might also talk about the importance of maximizing the use of choice – see the best publications and articles on providing students with choices.

5. “Parents’ Academic Involvement”: This includes helping parents with homework or talking to their children about school at home, as well as participating in activities at the school itself. See fifty “best” lists related to parenting here.

6. “Parent-Child Communication”: Do parents and their children communicate well and regularly with each other?

7. “Positive Peer Standards”: Do students hang out with friends who are more likely to graduate or drop out?

8. “Positive Student-Teacher Relationships”: Check out the best resources on the importance of building positive relationships with students.

9. “Small Schools”: I believe that large schools can implement this idea by developing small learning communities, as we did in our school. Check out the best resources for learning about small learning communities.

10. Participation in school extracurricular activities

11. Vocational and technical education opportunities

12: Access to ‘out of school’ community activities such as Outward Bound

Some of these factors are clearly beyond the control of the teacher and the school, but we can influence a few of them.

What is your opinion?

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