A study of dropouts in a rural Pennsylvania school district

Leon Anthony Trager, University of Pennsylvania


Dropouts have been a focus of the educational community for many years. It is widely believed that dropping out of school negatively effects the individual throughout his or her lifetime and bears negatively on the society at large as well. Extensive studies on the urban dropout support this claim. This study, however, examines these claims from a rural setting, rather than urban point of view. Through in-depth document review and personal interviews, I reviewed data on family education background, enrollment history, scores on standardized achievement tests, marks earned from grade 6 to 12, retentions, special education, I.Q. scores, attendance and length of time in the school district. My interviews focused on the dropouts' history with discipline, GED, jobs, groups and labeling, best and worst teacher, marks, extracurricular activities, pregnancy, emotional concerns, credits, and regrets. Contrary to the research on dropouts in urban settings, I found rural dropouts presented themselves to be relatively well-adjusted contributors to society. They appeared happy and were working, getting married, having children, buying vehicles and homes, learning a trade and planning for their future. As relatively successful students for most of their years in school, the dropouts had also participated in extracurricular activities. In conclusion, the rural dropouts in this study were not the failures that the related literature has described. Instead, the rural dropout could be perceived as quite successful. The rural environment not only accepted the dropouts, but welcomed them as contributing members of society. In fact, the favorable treatment in the world beyond school, coupled with the harsher treatment they received by teachers and personnel while in school, may have helped these students make the decision to drop out of school.

Subject Area

Academic guidance counseling|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Trager, Leon Anthony, "A study of dropouts in a rural Pennsylvania school district" (1991). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9200396.