Children with Disabilities and Factors Affecting Dropout

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"Variables Affecting Students' Decisions to Drop Out of School," Remedial and Special Education, Vol. 25, No. 5 (September/October 2004).

This article examines the factors related to dropping out of high school for students with learning disabilities and mental retardation. Although most of the research regarding dropouts has not focused specifically on students with disabilities, some studies suggest that the dropout rate for students with mild disabilities is at least two times greater than that of non-disabled students. Dropout rates for students with disabilities are higher overall but dropout rates also vary by disability: in 2002, the Department of Education reported that 27.1% of students with learning disabilities, 24.9% of students with mental retardation, and 50.6% of students with emotional disturbance dropped out, whereas only 11.8% of students with visual impairments dropped out. The article gives an overview of factors related to dropout as well as some background information on students’ perspective (a 1999 study of some students with disabilities found that 68% felt that there were changes that could have been made that would have helped them stay in school and 64% indicated that they would consider returning to school).

The article then discusses the authors’ own study of former students from Alabama. The study found that the probability of a student with a learning disability dropping out was .58 while the probability of a student with mental retardation was .37. The study finds that students who identified a helpful person and helpful class in high school and who believed that school prepared them for what they wanted to do after high school were less likely to have dropped out.


Remedial and Special Education


Dunn, Caroline, Dalee Chambers and Karen Rabren

Wed, 09/01/2004
September/October 2004