Difficulties in Preventing Dropouts Are Identified
The study was conducted by the U.S. General Accounting Office.
The gao researchers surveyed 479 local dropout-prevention programs, finding little evaluation data for most of the programs and widespread variation in the kinds of services offered and the types of students targeted for assistance.
The report also notes that school systems use varying methods to calculate their dropout rates.
"The availability of standardized data is a prerequisite for measuring the relative effectiveness of dropout programs," the authors write.
Despite the program variations, however, the researchers compiled a list of characteristics commonly cited by school officials as components of "effective" dropout-prevention efforts.
Such programs, according to the directors surveyed, must include:
Multiple services--including, particularly, basic education and counseling.
Some preparation for the General Educational Development test for students who have already dropped out.
A "caring and committed staff, a nonthreatening learning environment, a low teacher-student ratio, and program flexibility."
Five copies of the report per request may be obtained without charge by writing the U.S. General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 6015, Gaithersburg, Md. 20877; or by calling (202) 275-6241.
Additional copies are $2 each.