Dropout prevention programs

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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