High School Dropouts' Perspectives: Implications for Dropout Prevention Practices and Policies (2017-2018)

This project focused on investigating high school dropouts’ perspectives about factors and processes related to high school educational attainment. The aim was to develop a clearer understanding of risk factors for dropout and learn more about factors and processes that can strengthen the potential for graduating.

Previous versions of this project team have worked with Durham Public Schools to create, pilot-test, implement and evaluate new interventions for middle school and high school dropout prevention. The 2017-2018 team continued these intervention pilots with a primary emphasis on conducting a research study of dropouts’ perspectives.

Activities included developing and implementing a community-based participatory research study involving interviewing school dropouts; learning the range of methods by which researchers examine school dropout; engaging regularly with Durham Public Schools administrators and staff; and exploring ways to assess the neurodevelopmental impact of the interventions within the interpersonal contexts that influence these youths’ behaviors.

Team members interviewed dropouts about their perspectives on why they dropped out, the negative and positive features of their schools and schooling, their values about education and their ideal school. Team members also interviewed school personnel, including teachers, administrators, school resource officers and counselors, as well as parents/guardians and community leaders who work with those who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out, on their perspectives so as to triangulate the data and findings.


Fall 2017 – Spring 2018


Victoria Johnson

This Team in the News

Why Do Students Drop Out?

See earlier related team, School Dropout Prevention in the Durham Public Schools (2016-2017)

Team Leaders

  • Ann Brewster, Social Science Research Institute
  • Timothy Strauman, Arts & Sciences-Psychology and Neuroscience

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Victoria Johnson, Psychology (AB), Economics (BS2)
  • Van Nguyen, Public Policy Studies (AB), Political Science (AB2)
  • Brooke Porter, Public Policy Studies (AB)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Durham Public Schools