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About Dropouts101 | Dropouts 101

About Dropouts101

In 2004, the authors of “Do Children Drop Out of School in Kindergarten” randomly met at the National Dropout Prevention Center conference in Orlando, Florida.  Unbeknownst to each other, we were both interested in attending each other’s presentations. After attending each other’s presentations and exchanging ideas about research related to dropouts, a partnership

Originally, we did not set out to write a book or create a website. Rather, we decided to merge our collective experiences in an effort to conduct a longitudinal study that tracked children from Kindergarten through 12th grade or the point of dropping out of school. Our intent was to discover at what point in time in school and across which variables did those children who eventually dropped out began to look different than those children who eventually graduated from school. The results were shocking in that children who dropped out of school were markedly different than children who graduated from school across all variables as early as kindergarten. We published this study in the Journal of Educational Research.

Over the course of the past seven years the authors have formed collaborative partnerships with numerous schools across the State of Arizona in an effort to examine high school dropouts.  Through  projects, research, contracting, presentations, publications, and working with special interest groups, we have become convinced that the reason educators, policy makers, special interest groups. think tanks, and others cannot solve the dropout phenomena sweeping our country are embedded in their approach to understanding dropouts. More specifically, they assume children develop in an “educational vacuum.” That is, they focus solely on education-related variables in a linear, cause-and-effect fashion, believing some singular intervention will reduce the numbers of children from dropping out of school, or illuminate and help understand why children drop out of school.

The reality is such an approach does not yield the answers for understanding dropouts. Why? Children develop in multiple systems across their lives, affecting their development. Children experience family, peers, communities, religion, school, school districts, school boards, state and national laws, and on and on. With this being the case, how would addressing dropout problems from a linear, cause–and-effect way of thinking provide answers? Answer – it can’t!

Dropout101 is aimed at providing educators, policy makers, think tanks, special interest groups, and others whose mission it is to reduce high school dropouts and improve schooling performance a forum by which to examine and discuss cutting edge research regarding dropouts from a systems perspective. The authors will pose questions and answers regarding the nature of children dropping out of school from a systems perspective. We welcome and encourage you to share your thoughts.


Gregory P. Hickman, Ph.D.  and Randy S. Heinrich, D.M.