Americans generally hold the belief that success comes through education. And in many fields, the years of schooling required for employment have risen dramatically. Despite this emphasis on education, however, thousands of students continue to drop out.
Understanding why students drop out is important in developing effective dropout prevention strategies. But by focusing on the specific act of dropping out and emphasizing associated consequences, educators have often neglected the search for earlier clues. As students progress through the grades, their experiences shape their thinking about school and may contribute to an orientation that promotes dropping out later. This paper examines dropout characteristics and behavior from preschool through high school and presents the experience of selected dropout prevention programs.