15 Effective Strategies for dropout prevention

Short summary

The National Drop Out Prevention Center/network has conducted analysed research, sponsored workshops and worked with policy makers, teachers and school heads.

Because of the fact that the reasons for drop-out are multi-dimensional, the network has identified 15 effective strategies that have been the most positive impact on reducing dropout. These strategies seem to be independent but actually work well together and frequently overlap. These strategies have been successful at all school levels and in rural, suburban and urban settings too.

The strategies are grouped into four general categories:

  • Foundational strategies (from a school-community perspective)
  • Early interventions
  • Basic core strategies
  • Managing and improving instruction

Systemic Approach

 This strategy calls for a systematic approach and process for ongoing and continuous improvement across all grade levels and among all stakeholders. This means a shared and widely communicated vision and focus. It also requires the alignment of school policies, practices and organisation

 School-Community Collaboration

 The focus is an engaged and responsive community where everyone is accountable for the quality of education, resulting in a caring and collaborative environment where youth can thrive and achieve.

 Safe learning environments

 A comprehensive violence prevention plan, including conflict resolution, must deal with potential violence as well as crisis management. A safe learning environment provides daily experiences, at all grade levels, that enhance positive social attitudes and effective interpersonal skills in all students

 Family Engagement

Research consistently finds that family engagement has a direct, positive effect on children’s achievement and is the most accurate predictor of a student’s success in school.

Early Childhood Education

Birth-to-five interventions demonstrate that providing a child additional enrichment can enhance brain development. The most effective way to reduce the number of children who will ultimately drop out is to provide the best possible classroom instruction from the beginning of their school experience through the primary grades.

Early Literacy Development

Early interventions to help low-achieving students improve their reading and writing skills establish the necessary foundation for effective learning in all other subjects.


Mentoring is a one-to-one caring, supportive relationship between a mentor and a mentee that is based on trust. Tutoring, also a one-to-one activity, focuses on academics and is an effective practice when addressing specific needs such as reading, writing, or math competencies.


Service-learning connects meaningful community service experiences with academic learning. This teaching/learning method promotes personal and social growth, career development, and civic responsibility and can be a powerful vehicle for effective school reform at all grade levels.

Alternative Schooling

Alternative schooling provides potential dropouts a variety of options that can lead to graduation, with programs paying special attention to the student’s individual social needs and academic requirements for a high school diploma.

After-School/Out-of-School Opportunities

Many schools provide after-school and summer enhancement programs that eliminate information loss and inspire interest in a variety of areas. Such experiences are especially important for students at risk of school failure because these programs fill the afternoon “gap time” with constructive and engaging activities.

Professional Development

Teachers who work with youth at high risk of academic failure need to feel supported and have an avenue by which they can continue to develop skills, techniques, and learn about innovative strategies.

Active Learning

Active learning embraces teaching and learning strategies that engage and involve students in the learning process. Students find new and creative ways to solve problems, achieve success, and become lifelong learners when educators show them that there are different ways to learn

Educational Technology

Technology offers some of the best opportunities for delivering instruction to engage students in authentic learning, addressing multiple intelligences, and adapting to students’ learning styles.

Individualized Instruction

Each student has unique interests and past learning experiences. An individualized instructional program for each student allows for flexibility in teaching methods and motivational strategies to consider these individual differences.

Career and Technology Education (CTE)

A quality CTE program and a related guidance program are essential for all students. School-to-work programs recognize that youth need specific skills to prepare them to measure up to the larger demands of today’s workplace.

Context of good practice

The national Dropout prevention Center at Clemsons University provides lots of suggestions and results of programs reducing early school leaving.  You can join the growing number of practitioners who are Certified National Dropout Prevention Specialists by enrolling in the National Dropout Prevention Specialist (NDPS) Certification Program for educators and at-risk youth workers. Certified Dropout Prevention Specialists complete a professional learning program founded in the Center's 15 Effective Dropout Prevention Strategies, document their experience by completion of a job-embedded field project, and serve as a national resource for others who work with at-risk youth.

The documents are available for purchase.

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Target group of good practice:

Policy makers


United States


The National Drop Out Prevention Center

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