Dropout prevention programs

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities and promote healthy childhood environments. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Programs can be school- or community-based and aim at increasing school engagement, school attachment, and academic performance
  • Approaches often include creating smaller classes and lower teacher to student ratios
  • Many strategies provide multiple support services, such as vocational training, counseling, case management, supplemental academic services, and mentoring
  • Programs may focus on individual students or entire schools with low graduation rates
  • Some programs include financial rewards, sanctions, or attendance monitoring to encourage engagement

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)


Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by the National Institute of Justice, County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

Target population

High school-aged children

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Reduced dropout rates
  • Increased graduation rates
  • Improved school performance
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Programs such as vocational training and alternative schools have increased completion rates by up to 15%

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Ensure that sufficient staffing and resources are available to guarantee appropriate learning environments, provide counseling, and to closely monitor students.
  • Include a variety of components, including academic remediation and tutoring, career and technical education, case management, counseling, mentoring and advocacy, etc.
  • Assign adult advocates to students to improve program recruitment and retention.
  • Include behavioral interventions and focus on problem-solving skills, instead of focusing solely on attendance monitoring.
  • Restructure classrooms to provide personalized learning environments and foster strong student-teacher relationships in order to increase student engagement and lower dropout and truancy rates.
  • Include families and community members in all aspects of the school’s operations.
  • Implement programs that are intensive, comprehensive, and continue through the students’ entire secondary school career.

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