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Child Dev. 1989 Dec;60(6):1437-52.

Early school dropout: configurations and determinants.

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Carolina Consortium on Human Development, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599.


This longitudinal study examined behavioral, cognitive, and demographic factors associated with early school dropout. Follow-up assessments were completed on a sample of girls (n = 248) and boys (n = 227) who had first been seen when they were in the seventh grade. School status was determined for all living subjects; 99% of them were interviewed individually in the fifth annual test wave. Overall, 14% of the group had dropped out of school prior to completing grade 11. The clusters of males and females most vulnerable to early school dropout were characterized in grade 7 by high levels of aggressiveness and low levels of academic performance (82% early dropout in males; 47% early dropout in females). In seventh grade, subjects who subsequently dropped out tended to affiliate with persons who were also at risk for dropout. Socioeconomic status, race, and early parenthood were also associated with school dropout. The primary outcomes were supported by convergent variable-oriented and person-oriented analyses. Some developmental dynamics of the phenomena are discussed.

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