Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name


Administration and Policy

First Advisor

Dr. William Denton



The purpose of this study was to identify and explain the selective responses that dropout students felt contributed to their leaving school before graduation.


The researcher collected three sets of data which included the review of the literature, the student records in the Southwest School District and the interviews of two hundred participants using McDowell's questionnaire.

The questions were conceived of as functioning primarily in the context of justification. Thus, the researcher did not begin with previously identified reasons; rather, the researcher examined the responses to determine reasons which seem to be fruitful. The Sophia McDowell questionnaire was used to collect demographic information on each student to further explain their reasons for dropping out of school in four areas: personal data, family information, career information and school achievement. The results of data findings were described collectively and individually and summarized in tables.


1. The literature on early school leavers depicts a profile which identifies them as suffering from personal problems, lack of parental support, economic condition and poor student/teacher relationships. However, these statements represent social and administrative judgments rather than functional terminology.

2. The student personnel records are of little value in gaining insight into early school leaving. The records seem to classify the students' departure as the result of "lack of interest" which offers little insight into the students' real circumstance.

3. The superficial responses for early school leaving as offered by students on a questionnaire varies little from the causes as reported in the literature.

When the total sample is viewed, one finds that there were more Black Americans and more males who dropped out of school and at an earlier age than Caucasians and females.

The marital status of the participants' parents indicates that more of the dropouts come from homes with married parents. The majority of these students, however, did return to some kind of basic education or to a job training program. On the other hand, more of the permanent dropouts come from single-parent or broken homes and did not return to school. Before one can justify that parental marital status does influence students to either remain in school or to drop out of school, however, more research is needed in this area.

The majority of the participants studied were preparing for their future occupations by going back to school. From a sample of two hundred participants, there were 144 attending extended day school, vocational school, on-the-job training and apprenticeship training.

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