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J Youth Adolesc. 2012 Feb;41(2):156-66. doi: 10.1007/s10964-011-9665-3. Epub 2011 Apr 27.

School disengagement as a predictor of dropout, delinquency, and problem substance use during adolescence and early adulthood.

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Department of Psychology, Colorado State University, 220 Behavioral Sciences Building, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1876, USA.


Over the past 5 years, a great deal of attention has been paid to the development of early warning systems for dropout prevention. These warning systems use a set of indicators based on official school records to identify youth at risk for dropout and then appropriately target intervention. The current study builds on this work by assessing the extent to which a school disengagement warning index predicts not only dropout but also other problem behaviors during middle adolescence, late adolescence, and early adulthood. Data from the Rochester Youth Development Study (N = 911, 73% male, 68% African American, and 17% Latino) were used to examine the effects of a school disengagement warning index based on official 8th and 9th grade school records on subsequent dropout, as well as serious delinquency, official offending, and problem substance use during middle adolescence, late adolescence, and early adulthood. Results indicate that the school disengagement warning index is robustly related to dropout as well as serious problem behaviors across the three developmental stages, even after controlling for important potential confounders. High school dropout mediates the effect of the warning index on serious problem behaviors in early adulthood.

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