Rice researchers study Houston ISD dropout rates

The research evaluated the various factors that could influence whether a student drops out of the Houston ISD. | File photo

A recent research brief shows that age as well as disciplinary incidents are among the most significant factors that are likely to affect whether a student chooses to drop out of high school.

The brief, from Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC), which is a branch of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, is titled “Evaluating High School Dropout Indicators and Assessing Their Strength: Evidence From the Houston Independent School District.”

The research evaluated the various factors that could influence whether a student drops out of the Houston ISD. It specifically looked at the 2009-2010 group of freshman high school students.

“Finding accurate predictors of high school noncompletion continues to rank as a major concern among policymakers and social science scholars whose research focuses on inequality in educational attainment,” Diego Torres, the paper’s lead author and a former HERC researcher, said.

The analysts looked at a wide range of factors, including free-lunch qualification, sex, socioeconomic advantages or disadvantages, race, disciplinary issues, previous grades, English proficiency, test scores, and other factors inside of the school district.

“District resources across the country are often limited, so correctly allocating monies to combat malleable factors is of utmost importance,” Torres said. “With respect to the dropout crisis, it is natural that interventions should be targeted at students who need it most. Just as important, however, is avoiding the wasting of resources on interventions targeted at students who don’t really need it.”

Students who were above the usual grade age when they began high school showed a 336 percent increase in their chances of dropping out of high school. In addition, students who had a disciplinary incident during eighth grade had a 124 percent higher risk of dropping out of Houston ISD. Socioeconomic status, grades, and more also had an influence on the dropout rates.

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