Leaving school without a diploma: stories behind the decision





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The purpose of the study was to learn from the stories participants told of their school experiences and the specific international external factors that contributed to their leaving school. The participants shared information about their families, their friends, their school stories, and their life experiences to provide insight into what school was like for them. The literature upon which this study was based drew from research on school dropouts, including how graduation rates are calculated, characteristics of early school leavers, challenges facing high school dropouts as well as research relating to developmental assets, those intangible qualities, characteristics and resources that help young people to make good decision, choose positive paths, and grow into competent, caring, responsible adults. Participants were interviewed on three occasions, responding to open ended questions focusing their school and life experiences, their decision to leave school prior to earning a diploma, and how their school experiences contributed, or not, to the decision to leave school early. The study resulted in the identification of asset categories of particular impact and concern, including lack of purpose in life, few positive adult role models, little constructive use of time, lack of commitment to school, lack of desire to avoid things that are dangerous or unhealthy, positive self-esteem, and the message that the school could take no action that you have made a difference at the time participants left school.

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