Causes of School Dropouts


School administrators, teachers and parents all fight constantly to reduce the number of dropouts that occur at schools across the nation. However, it can be difficult to fight a problem that society may not understand. Understanding the root causes of school dropouts is essential so that the measures educators take are effective.

Disassociation and Boredom

  • Many students become disillusioned with school because they believe that there is no connection between the material taught in the classroom and jobs in the real world. Civic Enterprises conducted a study where dropouts were interviewed to find out why they dropped out. A startling 81 percent said that they wished a clearer connection between job skills and the academics studied in high school had been presented while they were in school. Students who are bored by classes are also at an increased risk of dropping out. Teachers need to work hard to keep students interested and engaged in the material being presented in class and need to show students how the material applies to the real world.


  • The type of family background that a student comes from plays a large part in the likelihood of that student dropping out. A distinct hierarchy exists between high-, middle- and low-income families in terms of the odds of a student from one of those families dropping out of school. Students are at 2.4 times the dropout risk when from a low-income family when compared to middle-income students. That figure jumps to 10.5 times the risk when compared to high-income background students.


  • When a student is held back due to low grades, it puts him at higher risk of dropping out. Poor academic performance is generally linked to drop-out rates. Students who have to repeat specific classes also face higher drop-out risks. According to EduGuide, students who fail math or English in the eighth grade are at a 75 percent increased risk of becoming a drop out.

Parental Involvement

  • The amount that a parent is involved in a child's school life is certainly related to how likely a student is to drop out. An engaged parent notices the red flags, such as failing marks or a student who is not attending class regularly. Parents who are too busy with work or their own lives are less likely to notice these problems. This means that important intervention opportunities are missed and that the student continues down a path that leads to dropping out.


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