Girls Tend to Stop Going;  Boys Get Told Not to Come Back  A Report on Gender and the Dropout Problem in Colorado Schoo

Girls Tend to Stop Going; Boys Get Told Not to Come Back A Report on Gender and the Dropout Problem in Colorado Schoo PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Background. Dropping out of school, and the concomitant failure to graduate with a high school diploma, form a silent epidemic" in the U.S. today.almost one-third of all public high school students in America fail to graduate" (Bridgeland, DiIulio

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Girls Tend to Stop Going; Boys Get Told Not to Come Back A Report on Gender and the Dropout Problem in Colorado Schoo

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1. “Girls Tend to Stop Going; Boys Get Told Not to Come Back” A Report on Gender and the Dropout Problem in Colorado Schools Laurie J. Bennett, JD, PhD National Center for School Engagement Martha Abele Mac Iver, PhD The Center for Social Organization of Schools Johns Hopkins University

2. Background Dropping out of school, and the concomitant failure to graduate with a high school diploma, form a “silent epidemic” in the U.S. today. “almost one-third of all public high school students in America fail to graduate” (Bridgeland, DiIulio & Morison, 2006, p. 1) The research consensus: dropout rate for girls is lower than for boys. Nationally: 72% of girls graduate, 64% of boys Similar in Colorado (Swanson, 2004, pp. 38, 48)

3. Background Little or no analysis in literature about why male and female dropout rates differ, or what factors might explain the difference. Most research studies on dropouts do not disaggregate data by gender Result: dropout prevention efforts tend to focus on boys, and their reasons for dropping out – ignoring that almost 30% of girls do not graduate

4. The Question How do we explain why more girls graduate than boys? Are there factors peculiar to girls that signal their dropping out of school – and do those factors differ from those predicting male dropout? Identifying what affects girls’ continued school attendance/avoidance is important for crafting intervention and dropout efforts to forestall their dropping out

5. Structure of Study Urban/Suburban Quantitative Study: Data from a quantitative study of the Colorado Dropout problem in five urban/suburban districts have disaggregated by gender, and the gender differences in dropout outcomes and dropout predictors are identified. Exploratory Qualitative Study Interviews with intervention specialists from Colorado Youth for a Change who have worked intensively with hundreds of dropouts/at risk students in urban Colorado schools. CYC -- Colorado non-profit, founded in 2005, working with youth who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out. Outreach/intervention specialists have intensive, day-to-day contact with hundreds of youth, with wealth of untapped knowledge about the specific needs of young people who drop out, and about the factors at work at home, in school, and in the kids themselves affecting their decisions to stay in or leave school CYC -- Colorado non-profit, founded in 2005, working with youth who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out. Outreach/intervention specialists have intensive, day-to-day contact with hundreds of youth, with wealth of untapped knowledge about the specific needs of young people who drop out, and about the factors at work at home, in school, and in the kids themselves affecting their decisions to stay in or leave school

6. Description of the “Colorado Graduates” Five District Urban/Suburban Study Analysis used de-identified student level administrative data from five Colorado districts Followed 2006-07 secondary students back in time 4 years Identified characteristics distinguishing dropouts from graduates and others still in school Analyzed 2003-04 cohort of 9th graders through final outcome in 2006-07

7. Gender and ethnicity patterns in dropout outcomes in these Colorado districts matched the national research findings. Our first set of analyses examined all dropouts in 2006-07. Overall, the proportion of male dropouts was higher than females in each of the five districts (ranging from 52% to 59%), though in one of the districts, the proportion of males matched the overall high school population proportion. At the same time, more than 40% of dropouts were female in all five districts In all districts, male dropout rate exceeds female dropout rate. Gender and ethnicity patterns in dropout outcomes in these Colorado districts matched the national research findings. Our first set of analyses examined all dropouts in 2006-07. Overall, the proportion of male dropouts was higher than females in each of the five districts (ranging from 52% to 59%), though in one of the districts, the proportion of males matched the overall high school population proportion. At the same time, more than 40% of dropouts were female in all five districts In all districts, male dropout rate exceeds female dropout rate.

8. Female dropouts tended to be somewhat younger than male dropouts in most districts. At the same time, female dropouts did not differ significantly from male dropouts in grade level at dropout or number of credits short of graduation. This finding is related to the fact that males are more likely than females (among the overall high school population as well as among dropouts) to be overage for grade. Female dropouts tended to be somewhat younger than male dropouts in most districts. At the same time, female dropouts did not differ significantly from male dropouts in grade level at dropout or number of credits short of graduation. This finding is related to the fact that males are more likely than females (among the overall high school population as well as among dropouts) to be overage for grade.

9. The fact that females tend to have lower rates of ninth grade course failure and suspensions (two of the key predictors of a dropout outcome) helps to explain why there tend to be more male than female dropouts. But even among dropouts, males still tend to have more failures and more suspensions (Figures 3 and 4). Analyses of the predictors of ninth grade course failure also found that females still had significantly fewer course failures even controlling for ninth grade attendance and 8th grade test scores (the most important predictors of ninth grade course failure). The fact that females tend to have lower rates of ninth grade course failure and suspensions (two of the key predictors of a dropout outcome) helps to explain why there tend to be more male than female dropouts. But even among dropouts, males still tend to have more failures and more suspensions (Figures 3 and 4). Analyses of the predictors of ninth grade course failure also found that females still had significantly fewer course failures even controlling for ninth grade attendance and 8th grade test scores (the most important predictors of ninth grade course failure).

10. [Suspension data in Denver were available for only two years, not four years.] The fact that females tend to have lower rates of ninth grade course failure and suspensions (two of the key predictors of a dropout outcome) helps to explain why there tend to be more male than female dropouts. But even among dropouts, males still tend to have more failures and more suspensions (Figures 3 and 4). Analyses of the predictors of ninth grade course failure also found that females still had significantly fewer course failures even controlling for ninth grade attendance and 8th grade test scores (the most important predictors of ninth grade course failure). [Suspension data in Denver were available for only two years, not four years.] The fact that females tend to have lower rates of ninth grade course failure and suspensions (two of the key predictors of a dropout outcome) helps to explain why there tend to be more male than female dropouts. But even among dropouts, males still tend to have more failures and more suspensions (Figures 3 and 4). Analyses of the predictors of ninth grade course failure also found that females still had significantly fewer course failures even controlling for ninth grade attendance and 8th grade test scores (the most important predictors of ninth grade course failure).

11. Summary of Conclusions from Quantitative Study Fewer girls than boys dropped out in these large Colorado districts. This is related to the fact that girls are less likely to display the behaviors (particularly course failure and misbehavior resulting in suspension) closely linked to dropout outcomes. At the same time, there continue to be large numbers of girls leaving high school without a diploma. Some of the early warning signs for girls are much the same as for boys -- poor attendance, misbehavior, and course failure. BUT – analyses indicated that factors such as number of ninth grade failures and suspensions explained more of the variation in dropout outcomes for boys than for girls. Suggests that perhaps life events or other factors unrelated to course failures and suspensions have more of an impact on dropout outcomes for girls than boys.

12. Qualitative Study: Interviews of Intervention Specialists Quantitative study found that, while some of the early warning signals and behaviors useful for predicting dropout outcomes for boys work for some girls as well, they are not predictive for many female dropouts. Qualitative study undertaken to explain (a) different male/female dropout rates and (b) inference that as yet unidentified factors may be at work for girls.

13. The Interviews Unstructured interviews conducted of CYC’s founder, program director, and three specialists Loosely followed protocol asking about General reasons for or predictors of dropping out Any differences between boys and girls Specific pullout or pushout factors influencing dropout decisions (REFT Inst., 2009; Stearns & Glennie, 2006) Any differences between boys and girls Whether remedial/intervention approach differed depending upon gender Intervews of 1-1½ hours; recorded, coded by themes Pullout factors: non-school contexts pulling teens out of school: employment, pregnancy, family caregiving responsibilities, family disruption, safety concerns. Pushout factors: school factors discouraging attendance: student behavior/discipline, academic achievement, attendance, in-school bullying.Pullout factors: non-school contexts pulling teens out of school: employment, pregnancy, family caregiving responsibilities, family disruption, safety concerns. Pushout factors: school factors discouraging attendance: student behavior/discipline, academic achievement, attendance, in-school bullying.

14. Interview Findings: Same factors, but manifested differently for boys vs. girls Pullout Factors: Employment: Boys and girls both get pulled away from school by draw of outside employment. But For boys – to “man up” to support self and family, to start a “career” For girls – to earn spending money – take “whatever job – they don’t use the concept of a career as a reason not to go back to school.” Care giving: Both boys and girls have family obligations pulling them out of school. But For girls – expected to stay home to care for immature or ailing family members, or to cook and clean For boys – expected to be “providers” for the benefit of the family, rather than homebound “caregivers”

15. Interview Findings: Same factors, but manifested differently for boys vs. girls Pullout Factors Pregnancy/parenting: Both boys and girls can be doing well in school and do “a 180,” with attendance and grades plummeting For boys – could be any number of things – involvement with gangs, criminal justice system, etc.) For girls – a clear pattern indicating pregnancy; teen pregnancy and parenting create host of issues requiring personalized support for girl to stay in school (health, housing, etc.) Parenting responsibilities appear to fall disproportionately on new mom Other family factors: family disruptions such as divorce, fighting, financial difficulties, illness, abuse/neglect, mobility – affect male and female students equally, and depress attendance For boys – may impel them to seek outside employment to help support family For girls – may draw them closer into family circle to give care in time of need

16. Interview Findings: Same factors, but manifested differently for boys vs. girls Pullout Factors Safety concerns: For boys – do not take personal safety into account as a reason to attend or not attend school For girls – may be kept home by family to protect her from dangers in school setting – “parents enable girls not to go to school if they feel unsafe” Criminal Justice System Involvement: As a rule, boys go to corrections, girls do not. For boys – incarceration for “real crimes” (drugs, stealing cars, gang violence) prevents them from getting necessary core credits, can’t graduate For girls – types of arrests (petty theft, domestic, truancy) more likely to trigger involvement with social services or truancy court than juvenile justice

17. Interview Findings: Same factors, but manifested differently for boys vs. girls Pushout Factors Academics and credits: Both boys and girls are in state of blissful ignorance as to status of earned credits needed to graduate. Both need academic help. But For boys – do not ask about state of credits and get surprised – act out in class to point of being asked to leave; get behind, do not understand what’s happening in class, “get in teachers’ faces about it” and get kicked out For girls – “more willing to seek out the information about credits” and make an initial effort to remedy the problem, seek out help (to get credits and to catch up academically). If efforts do not bear fruit (“if the help doesn’t help) they give up, drift away, stop attending class.

18. Interview Findings: Same factors, but manifested differently for boys vs. girls Pushout factors Discipline: Boys get suspended/expelled for disciplinary reasons more frequently and regularly than do girls. “Boys get kicked out for acting up in class and fights, girls for fighting outside of class, not for acting up in class, and not that often.” “Boys and girls share the same stories but are disciplined differently – with boys, there is the fear it will get out of hand.” Attendance: Both ditch, but for different reasons. For boys – for work; for girls – for family responsibilities, pregnancy-related issues, peer pressure (boys, friends) Girls more often get dropped from school for nothing more than poor attendance; boys get pushed out for other behavioral reasons as well

19. From The Interviews, Three Themes Emerged Three areas kept coming up again and again as overarching themes, distinguishing girls from boys: Behavior Relationships Responsibility for others and for self

20. Behavior Boys: It’s all about pride, and “manning up” and “acting out” and “getting in your face.” They are “more volatile.” They “disrupt.” Their behavior forces the school adults to interact with them, for fear that any disruption will “get out of hand.” Girls: They tend to be “non-overt.” “If girls are disengaged, if they feel not valued, they’ll drift off.” They rarely assert themselves; they “sneak out, quieter, go unrecognized.” “Girls tend to stop going; boys get told not to come back.” Girls drift away from the school setting, and since they do not make trouble or assert themselves, no one notices. Boys act out their frustrations, and are then attended to, but often in ill-conceived ways, resulting in their being disciplined and ultimately pushed out of school altogether.

21. Relationships For girls, more than boys, their relationships appear to be the driving force in whether they go to school, stay at home, or go to the mall. “Girl dramas” – the intensity of interaction among girls that dictate whether school is attended or not, the passion of ups and downs of boyfriends that can as easily draw a girl away from school as to it Family – girls are pulled toward deep and abiding family relationships, full of expectations and need and responsibility Countervailing pull of school – dry academics, teachers devoted to curriculum delivery rather than relating to students – can be pretty weak “Girls lack a sense of self, and are easily swayed. Strong in-school friendships draw girls into school. Relationships with adults would, if there were adults available to them.” Girls away from school for a time, due to suspensions, family issues, etc., will not come back without relationships in the schoo: “if they don’t have a relationship to come back to, why come back?

22. Responsibility for Self and Others For girls, one “hook” that helps “reach them” is their overhanging sense of responsibility Their lives are fraught with expectations that they care for and support their family members, their community, and their peers. They have a “sobriety” about them, they’re “more aware of responsibilities, realistic about what they need to do.” For boys – “you have to be sensitive to egos, delusions of grandeur; they think they’ve accomplished more than they have. For girls – “have a maturity about them, more realistic…[you can] have more of a professional relationship with them. More sober. Boys think they’ll join the Broncos.” Girls have difficulty, however, taking responsibility for themselves as autonomous beings, and get overwhelmed by outside responsibilities instead. “Girls don’t have a voice for themselves – not represented.” “Advocacy for self is a form of caring for self. Sometimes the girls don’t know how to act like they care.” Girls who come back to school successfully “acknowledge their autonomy, do it for themselves, [understand it’s] okay to concentrate on self and develop self. Otherwise…hopelessly pulled back into the ‘web’ of other people’s demands.”

23. Remedial Action/Intervention: Flexibility, Fit & Framing Flexibility: Dropout programs must meet needs of boys and girls for flexibility Boys need to be able to participate in school and work at the same time Girls need to be able to carry out family care responsibilities, pregnancy health issues, and fit in school at unorthodox times Fit: Large public schools tend to be “like factories – you don’t fit” Interventions for girls must focus in on the inexorable draw that relationships have for them; while active adult mentors and role-models can be a key factor in getting both girls and boys back to school, for girls they are, without question, crucial. Framing: How do you persuade a young person that getting a diploma is a worthwhile thing to do? For boys – “you need to boost their confidence – this is how you support your family, through education.” Give them a realistic picture of what education can accomplish for them, and where they will be without that diploma. For girls – appeal to their sense of responsibility, tell them what they can and should do to develop themselves through education so that they can meet the expectations of others AND themselves. “You can take care of your baby, your family better with a diploma – this is how you take care of them.” For all of them: “You have to frame education differently for each individual – get them to the point of saying ‘I see the value in this education for me’ rather than being told it is something they should want.’”

24. Implications Girls “stop going” because of: Care giving responsibilities at home The draw of the “drama” in one’s peer group Lack of relationships with adults or peers in the school setting Lack of appreciation for the value of education in one’s life Reluctance or inability to advocate for self in or outside of school Confluence of these factors makes it exceedingly difficult for a girl who gets behind in her work ever to catch up; ditching school becomes an increasing compelling option (or the path of least resistance); attend school holds little or no attraction At home and with peers, she gets positive reinforcement, a sense of welcome, a feeling of being capable at something; at school, she is ignored. Hence, she drifts away.

25. Implications Institutional vs. individual perspectives (Rumberger, 2004) Girls have difficulty advocating for their own interests, or even understanding they have interests to advance apart from the web of families and friendships in which they are enmeshed; pushing for their own education seems “selfish” in light of institutional pressures. Where can a girl find the support and skills to allow her to care for herself, so that her path to a diploma can be successfully pursued? Rumberger distinguishes between individual predictors of dropout, focusing on students “values, attitudes, behaviors” and institutional predictors, focusing on contextual factors found in families, schools, communities, peers.Rumberger distinguishes between individual predictors of dropout, focusing on students “values, attitudes, behaviors” and institutional predictors, focusing on contextual factors found in families, schools, communities, peers.

26. Implications Can we create: “pull-in” factors – schools operating to attract and retain girls in school, counteracting the forces pushing and pulling them out? “push-in” factors – communities, schools, and families framing school-going and graduation as something of value to young people, and persuading them that their communities and families are better served by staying in?

27. More Work to be Done Further large-scale survey work should be done, inquiring about the effects of relationships in and out of school, complexities of non-school responsibilities, impact of life-events (pregnancy/parenting) on girls’ dropping out. Before that, need to know more about universe of what might be influencing these silent, largely passive, drifting away female dropouts We recommend (based on Grobe, 2005, Boston study): Conduct 10+ focus groups of girls from differing demographics/school circumstances Hear their unique voices describing the forces pulling them and pushing them out of school Learn directly from them what might be effective to push or pull them back in

28. Girls are the quietest part of “The Silent Epidemic” – let us do what we can to provide a platform for their views and positions to be represented, and ultimately to incorporate their input into intervention proposals that might effectively get girls in Colorado to graduate.

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