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Policies and Practices Review

Research has shown that schools themselves contribute significantly to the dropout problem. The practices and policies in place can create conditions that push students out of school unintentionally.

The biggest policy barriers tend to be related to behavior, attendance and discipline.

The National Dropout Prevention Center lists some school-related factors associated with dropping out. These are:

  • Conflict between home/school cultures
  • Ineffective discipline system
  • Lack of adequate counseling
  • Negative school climate
  • Lack of relevant curriculum
  • Passive instructional strategies
  • Inappropriate use of technology
  • Disregard of student learning styles
  • Retentions/suspensions
  • Low expectations
  • Lack of language instruction

Why is it important?

Schools are increasingly tasked with meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. However, school policies and procedures seem inflexible, unaccommodating, and unchanging to meet the population it serves.

There are many areas in which a school can reform in order to better support student success. Reforming policies and procedures concerning discipline and attendance, grading, standards, and assessments, retention, and in areas like school structure and class assignment, course content and instructional practices, school climate and relationships can greatly impact student success.


The ‘Preventing Future High School Dropouts’ publication provides information on programs, practices and policies that increase high school graduation rates.

The report ‘Dropout Prevention: Do Districts Pursue Best Practice Recommendations?’ highlights policies and practices to ensure students have a comprehensive system of student and learning supports.

The ‘What Works Clearinghouse’ provides reviews on dropout prevention interventions.

The ‘What Works Clearinghouse’ has a ‘Practice Guide’ that provides recommendations that focus on reducing high school dropout rates.




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