Key Questions

1. How can educators influence high school graduation and dropout rates through systems that focus on prevention?


A decade ago, high school dropout was viewed as a problem that was almost impossible to address, particularly by the time students were in high school. Its causes were located in myriad factors affecting students outside of school and in the years prior to high school. In recent years, research has shown that students show signs of dropout risk early on in high school, and schools that reach out to students early—in the ninth-grade year—can keep them on track to graduate. Schools can develop policies and practices that make it less likely students will struggle in school, and that make it easier for school staff to establish supportive relationships with students. Chicago provides a case study of a district that has shown substantial progress in improving its graduation rates by developing systems at the school level for using data to identify which students need what types of support.

"Dropout Prevention: A Previously Intractable Problem Addressed Through Systems for Monitoring and Supporting Students" is chapter 17 of Prevention Science in School Settings: Complex Relationships and Processes, edited by Kris Bosworth.  The full book is available from Springer.

About the Book

This straightforward volume makes a strong, practical, research-based case for integrating prevention programs into middle and high schools. Written by experts in prevention science and education, it examines educational goals and prevention of risky behaviors as parallel and complementary processes and provides evidence for health-promoting schools as a critical forum for student development. Chapters show the benefits of this collaboration, as instructors engage with prevention content, prevention scientists study schools and create interventions, and counselors develop and implement activities, resulting in improved academic, social, and health outcomes. Examples of successful prevention strategies address personal and public health issues as varied as substance abuse, dating violence, dropping out, and suicide.

 Among the topics covered:

  • Engaging school leaders in prevention
  • Developing school-based prevention curricula
  • Scaling up evidence-based prevention interventions and practices
  • Conducting prevention research and evaluation in schools
  • Promoting a positive school climate and culture
  • Reducing disruptive behavior, violence, and bullying

Child and school psychologists, administrators, teachers,  school counselors, and prevention specialists will find significant common ground in Prevention Science in School Settings. The breadth and depth of coverage point to new, multidisciplinary directions in health education, school climate/culture, and positive youth development.