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Adolescents at RiskPrevalence and Prevention$
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Joy G. Dryfoos

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195072686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195072686.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 October 2021

Prevalence of School Failure and Dropping Out

Prevalence of School Failure and Dropping Out

(p.79) 6 Prevalence of School Failure and Dropping Out
Adolescents at Risk

Joy G. Dryfoos

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, we turn to the risk behavior that appears to underlie many of the problems addressed so far. Low achievement in school has been shown to be an important predictor of substance abuse, delinquency, and early sexual intercourse. And as we will see, not only are many of the antecedents of poor school performance the same as those for other problem behaviors, so are the consequences. Moreover, low academic achievement is both a predictor and a consequence of other kinds of risk behavior, as well as being a problem in itself. Understanding the epidemiology of school failure and dropping out is fundamental to this book’s argument: that high-risk behaviors are interrelated and, therefore, interventions must be comprehensive. School failure is a process rather than a single risk event. A young person initiates hard drug use or has early unprotected sexual intercourse or first commits a delinquent act at a specific time and place. Usually these actions are voluntary and follow a personal decision (although they are heavily influenced by the social environment). Low achievement results from an array of forces, many of which are outside the control of the child. The quality of the school is, of course, a major factor, as are the actual classroom practices and attitudes of the teacher. Estimates of the risk of other problem behaviors can be projected based on individual characteristics. Children with certain attributes are more likely than others to get involved in certain behaviors. This is not necessarily the case for estimating the risk of school failure since the probabilities are conditioned by both individual characteristics and the quality of the school. Children from disadvantaged households have been shown to succeed in excellent schools, while some schools are so inadequate that success is an exception. Unlike the other behaviors, risk of educational failure is measured routinely for almost all children at frequent intervals. Report cards inform children about their progress and, in aggregate, these marks produce a grade point average for each student.

Keywords:   Achievement test scores, Current Population Survey, Dropout rate, Family income, General equivalency diploma, High School and Beyond Survey, IMPACT, Mathematics achievement, Parental education

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