Characteristics and Education Outcomes of Utah High School Dropouts Who Re-Enrolled

By Vanessa Barrat, BethAnn Berliner

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Description

This REL West study challenges the perception that when high school students drop out, they leave school for good.

REL West researchers used data from the Utah State Office of Education to follow a cohort of students who were expected to graduate from Utah public schools within four years of entering high school.

Such data included:

  • The extent of high school dropouts and re-enrollments statewide within this cohort
  • How dropout and re-enrollment rates differed over time and by demographic characteristics
  • How the yearly academic progress of re-enrollees before dropping out differed from that of students who graduated on time with no interruptions in schooling and that of dropouts who did not return
  • The four- and six-year high school outcomes of re-enrollees who, by returning, had another chance to graduate

Key Findings

  • About 19 percent of Utah public high school students who were expected to graduate in 2011 dropped out at some point during the conventional four-year high school period; during that same period about 22 percent of those dropouts re-enrolled
  • Black and English learner students were more likely to drop out and less likely to re-enroll, putting them at greater risk of not graduating
  • Among students who had dropped out and re-enrolled by 2011, 26 percent graduated on time (within four years of entering high school), and 30 percent graduated within six years of entering high school
  • Although dropping out is not necessarily a permanent outcome, re-enrollees are at risk of poor high school outcomes

This information can be used to help focus school and state planning to increase the number of dropouts who return to school and to then get re-enrollees on track to graduate through interventions such as individualized graduation plans, alternative pathways to earning a diploma, and other promising re-engagement strategies.

View an animated summary of this report.

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