Dispelling Stereotypes of Young People Who Leave School before Graduation

Publication date: 
August, 2015

Dispelling Stereotypes of Young People Who Leave School Before Graduation explores the social and emotional competencies of young people who have left school before graduating from high school. Though often labeled “dropouts,” by society, stereotypes assume that these young people are deficient and simply disengaged – lacking the competencies of those that do graduate.

Our analyses show that young people who left school expressed the same competencies as those that have been found for young people who are academically successful. And, while not always legal or socially acceptable, the competencies of young people who left school before graduating enabled them to pursue and successfully reach their goals. Often, these goals were focused on circumstances that were dissonant with attending school, such as caring for a family member, surviving violent and/or abusive situations or financially providing for themselves or their families.

The brief focuses on a framework developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), which includes the following core skills:

  • Responsible decision-making
  • Self-management
  • Relationship skills
  • Social awareness
  • Self-awareness

Organizations that help young people resolve issues of trauma, overcome social and economic barriers and provide access to job training and educational support, leverage young peoples’ strengths and encourage positive outcomes in their lives.

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