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Statistical Analysis Report:

Subsequent Educational Attainment of High School Dropouts

June 1998

(NCES 98-085) Ordering information


This study examines the educational and employment attainment of 1988 eighth graders who dropped out of high school, based on data from the 1988 National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS:88/94). The following are key findings about their subsequent education and employment experiences:

About half of dropouts completed high school.

Completion status for dropouts was associated with a number of student and academic characteristics, such as socioeconomic status, test scores, and grades earned before dropping out.

High school completion among dropouts was associated with socioeconomic status.

Dropouts who demonstrated academic ability, but not necessarily academic performance, were most likely to complete high school. By 1994, two years after most of the cohort completed high school, high school completion among dropouts was associated with some educational, but few employment, characteristics./1

In 1994, most dropouts were either working, looking for work, or at home.

One quarter of dropouts enrolled in postsecondary education.


[1] This may be a result of the small sample size of dropouts. When available, differences among dropouts by completion status were noted, if not available, differences were noted between dropouts on the aggregate compared with those who had never dropped out.

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