Predicting school dropout among youth with disabilities: The roles of youth characteristics, academic experiences and emotional engagement factors.
Zablocki, Mark Steven
Leone, Peter E
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The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of disability classification, individual characteristics, academic experiences and emotional engagement on dropping out of school among youth with disabilities. Variables related to youth characteristics and school experiences were drawn from the first three waves of the National Longitudinal and Transitional Study 2 database. Chi-square analyses, t-tests, reliability analysis and logistic regression were used to answer five research questions. The descriptive results showed that there were significant group differences between dropouts and non-dropouts on disability classification, race/ethnicity, gender, disciplinary school exclusion, grade retention, grades and levels of emotional engagement. Logistic regression results showed that disability classification and race/ethnicity characteristics were reduced to non-significance when controlling for gender, household income, academic experiences and emotional engagement factors. Predictors that increased the odds of dropping out were out of school suspensions or expulsions and grade retention. Additionally, girls had significantly increased odds of dropping out compared to boys when controlling for other variables in the model. Factors associated with decreased odds of dropping out included coming from households with higher than average income, higher than average grades and higher levels of emotional engagement. The findings suggest that factors related to academic experiences significantly increased the odds of dropping out beyond disability classification or ethnic membership alone. Higher than average levels of emotional engagement were also associated with decreased odds of dropping out but appeared to have the smallest effect. Recommendations stress that school practices such as disciplinary removal and grade retention should be carefully considered, and that school programs be in place to help keep youth at-risk from dropping out.