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Research into Education

Research into Education: Profiling the Effects Preventing Students from

Graduating High School

Dr. Yong Lao

SBS 366

Prepared By:

Shaniz Beza

Jacob Peters

Austin Brown

Michael Kocina

California State University,

Monterey Bay

Research into Education


In America, there are steps to achieving higher education. The required steps that are

taken by students are to attend both primary and secondary school for a total of 12 years. In these

years, it is segmented in the sections beginning with first grade and continuing till twelfth grade.

Kids begin primary school at the age of six this is known as elementary school. Spending

about five to six years depending what grade the school reaches the student then transitions to

middle school also known as junior high school typically students spend about two to three

years in that phase. The final program that students enter is high school. In the end of

completing high school the student is awarded with a diploma upon of completion. The next step

after completing grade school students can choose to move on to college which is known as

higher education. The harsh reality of America is that many students are not continuing higher

education and it has become recognized by many including the president Barack Obama, during

a speech he gave he was quoted making the statement,

We also suffer from a college attainment gap, as high school graduates from the

wealthiest families in our nation are almost certain to continue on to higher education,

while just over half of our high school graduates in the poorest quarter of families attend

college. And while more than half of college students graduate within six years, the

completion rate for low-income students is around 25 percent (White House Gov).

Being very aware of the harsh reality we want to take a look at the reasons that prevent students

from not finishing high school. Also, we would like to examine if they do why do they not

continue onto higher education. My hypothesis would be that students need to become more

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aware of the opportunities and resources that are offered, we need to do a better job at educating

not only the students but the parents to slowly disintegrate the gap amongst race and classes.

Literature Review:

Students now live in a society where the amount of education can influence your life

decisions. With the advice and information from teachers, counselors, parents, coaches, and even

community members can help students expand their educational dreams, cultural and social

means that would not be accessible from where they are from. (Finn,2006, Hossler,Schmit 62

Vesper, 1999; Phelan,Locke-Davidson, & Yu,1998).

Providing equal education opportunities for students to strengthen themselves in all areas

including educationally, economically, and as simple as individually. Eradicating social concerns

can seem impossible, but what is possible is informing those such as the students and parents/

guardians with information that allows them to continue the success of students to higher

education. Factors such as race, poverty, parents educational levels, as well as access of student

resources can prohibit students from participating onto higher education.

As the Educational Longitudinal Survey data system states reasons students drop out are

typically due to the socio-economic setting, giving the likelihood of being pulled or pushed out

compared to a Caucasian student, as for Latino students are more likely to be pulled out for

problems of low socioeconomic status. The relationship among gender and race and being pulled

or pushed out all show findings in data that it typically happened amongst the school surrounded

by high amounts of poverty (Bradley and Renzulli, 2011). The process of kids falling into this

path is quite simple. There are three ways to think about it, you are either in school, pushed out

and or pulled out (Bradley and Renzulli, 2011). A number of studies reflect the rates of high

Research into Education

school dropout students have shown the process that it could lead a student onto the path of

dropping out of school (Bradley and Renzulli, 2011; Smyth and Hattam, 2004; LeCompte and

Dworkin, 1991; Hondo, Gardiner and Sapien, 2008). The rates of dropouts in African American

and Latino students are higher than their Caucasian peers. Dropout rates in 2009 show that

Latino students were at 17 percent and almost double of the rate of African American students

and nearly tripled the rate of Caucasian students. (Pew Hispanic Center, 2009; Bradley and

Renzulli, 2011).

Students range in reasons why dropping out is ultimately what is needed among the other

outside responsibilities that happen to come up and interfere causing a problem to continue their

high school education (Bradley and Renzulli, 2011). Fitzpatrick and Yoles blame the

environment or surroundings that influence the reasons which may be taken as reasons why kids

happen to leave school but research that has been done has shown that family backgrounds and

setting are to be one of the primary reasons that determine the presumption of why students tend

to drop out (Fitzpatrick and Yoles, 1992; Nam, Rhodes and Herriot, 1968; Bradley and Renzulli,

2011). Researchers have seen that coming from a high poverty family or a low socioeconomic

status family has been correlated to many influences of drop outs including low GPA, little to no

participation in extracurricular activities or any activities that may conclude to extra time needed

towards school (Ream and Rumberger, 2008; Mc Neal, 1995; Bradley and Renzulli, 2011). The

exercise of students dropping out creates a cycle that is repeated by the same group of students.

When kids who elect to drop out because of low economic settings causing them to lead to

academic failure creates a consequence such as employment problems, finding jobs that will take

kids with little to no education only creates a burden among the student themselves (Bradley and

Renzulli, 2011).

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Common studies and data show that students either stay in school or drop out. As well as

other studies that have been done primarily focus on characteristics of students that lead them

towards dropping out. Emphasizing factors such as family backgrounds such as their socio-

economic status, as well as factors such as gender and racial/ ethnicity. This could be also

interpreted as being pulled out for the needs of families or income of need (Ekstrom et al, 1986;

Ash, 2007; Bradley and Renzulli, 2011). The relative absence in all of these sociological studies

have been the role schools play in influencing students to stay in school and continue their

education. Under some sociological settings, you would assume that schools value strong

education in each of its students. A collection of evidence show that structure and household

income are less valued as influential factors in development of education rather than access to

support from schools and community (Apter, 2007; Kohn, 2006; Bekert, S. Storm, D. Storm,

Darre and Weed, 2008).


Our methodology was primarily quantitative. The study focused mainly on students who

attended public high school, parents whose kids attended public schools, as well as teachers,

administration, volunteers, and coaches who have interacted with the public-school system. We

chose the method of survey, in our survey we used 16 questions that allowed us assess our

question of what factors prevent students from completing high school and continuing to higher

education. We used Google forms to create our survey. With a goal of 50 responses we gratefully

received 59. The survey was issued to the participants primarily through technology based

networks. Social media networks was one of our main ways, it was posted on Facebook and

Twitter and was also sent out Via Text message throughout students within the local four high

school in the Monterey County area.

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In this section, we want to openly address some of the shortcomings of our survey, data

collection and analysis in an attempt to both address some of the ways we can improve as well as

to highlight some potential research questions for future research.

One of the biggest issues our data faces is that, in using a personal survey as our primary

method of data collection, we have opened ourselves up to the common bias that comes from

those who volunteer openly to take surveys. The idea being that, if someone is willing to take our

survey, that already skews the information and excludes those who would otherwise not take the

survey. Particularly for our topic of research, by taking survey results from students who

volunteer to take our survey, it can reasonably deduced that these students may feel more

connected or be more involved in their education or school and so are less likely to feel isolated

and unsupported. In both cases, this will skew our survey results and change the data we receive.

More importantly however, the data was collected primarily from students from local

schools. This means, while the data may be representative of the situation within those schools,

they may not represent schools nationally. Additionally, our survey results do not account for

schools with different demographics. Since we conducted our survey locally, we received a

majority of our survey responses from Latino students. While this is normal and representative of

the local area, it would not be a representative sample of the national school system. Our survey

also doesnt take into account access to public or private funding within schools. In an article by

B. J. Biddle and D. C. Berliner that highlights the disparities in funding between different socio-

economic and race groups in the United States and the uneven distribution of resources to public

educational institutions, they highlight that approximately 50% of revenue to fund local and state

school districts is paid for in local property taxes (A Research Synthesis/Unequal School

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Funding in the United States). This means that, a school in a wealthier or more impoverished

neighborhood that the schools we surveyed, they may feel more or less supported based on the

amount of federal and state funding they receive, which can skew our results.

Despite having several shortcomings within our survey and research, they do pose

additional research questions for future projects of inquiry within the educational system. For

starters, by conducting our survey at a number of schools with varying levels of affluence and

access to resources, we can compare the students responses on graduation barriers to see if

students at schools with more money report having fewer struggles with graduation. With that

said though, lets dive into the analysis for our current survey and see what the results were based

on the demographic and region we conducted our research on.

Analysis of Results:

Before getting into the cross-tab analysis, it is important to first bring up a table of some

of our general statistics. Table 1 shows the reasons those surveyed cited as the most important

barrier to student completion of high school. As you can see, the table shows that socioeconomic

factors, lack of support from school administration such as teachers, counselors and principals

and lack of student motivation are the top three barriers to graduation.

Table 1: Reasons Cited for Not Completing High School

Socio-economic Factors 16
Lack of Support from School Administration 13
Lack of Personal Student Motivation 11
Personal Issues (Pregnancy, Drugs etc) 10
Lack of Family Support 8
Other 1
Total 59

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Based on this tables results, we sought to do a Chi analysis between Race and whether

those surveyed believed Socio-economic Factors or lack of administration support were their

biggest factors preventing graduation. This comparison will allow us to see if one race sees one

factor as more important to their struggle than another race, or if there is no significant

correlation. For lack of personal student motivation, we felt it would be insightful to do a Chi

analysis between Gender and whether those surveyed believed Lack of Personal Motivation were

their biggest factor preventing graduation to see if the women we surveyed are more personally

motivated to succeed than their male counterparts or vice-versa.

Demographics of Those Surveyed

Black or African - White or Caucasian
10% American
5% 8% Hispanic / Latino Pacific Islander


In our race comparisons, we chose to focus on Latino individuals in comparison to the

other races, which include African American, Asian, White, and mixed individuals. Given the

clear majority of Latinos, who comprised 66% of those we surveyed, we felt singling them out in

comparison to the other racial categories would yield the most representative data and would

give us the most accurate conclusions for this particular sample group of students and parents.

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With that in mind, we conducted a Chi-analysis to compare Latino students with the other

races surveyed, a mix of African American, Asian, and Caucasian students, to examine whether

racial identity would determine how much of a factor a students socio-economic situation would

be in their bid to graduate. However, after completing the analysis, it was determined that there

wasnt a significant difference between Latinos and their counterparts in whether their socio-

economic status was the primary barrier holding students back from graduating. This suggests

that the students were all relatively close together as far as the amount of resources available to

them, and that race in this instance was not a determining factor of those resources.

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Does Low Income Affect a Student's Ability to Graduate High School?

3% Yes


However, based on the samples response to the broad question of whether socio-

economic factors have impact on a students ability to graduate, we got a virtually unanimous

answer of Yes, indicating that those we surveyed may still be affected by socio-economic


When we made a similar comparison between Latino students and their African

American, Asian, and Caucasian counterparts in whether race could be used to determine an

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amount of support being given by teachers, staff and counselors to the students, it was also

determined there also wasnt a significant relationship between racial identity and whether a lack

of staff and teacher support was the number one reason preventing students from graduating.

This suggests that, like socio-economic status, that there was no bias among the teachers and

staff in supporting (or not supporting) students with what they felt was necessary to their

successful graduation.

Does Race Play a Role on Students in enhancing their education?

Yes 27% No


This runs counter to one of the questions on our survey which asked those surveyed to

weigh in on if they felt race played a role in how good of an education students received. Despite

73% of those surveying reporting that they felt it did play a role in their education, the results of

our Chi-analysis show that there were no differences between the different races at this school

when it came to socio-economic resources or teacher and staff resources available to the

students. While this does suggest that, at least at this school, there is a general equality between

what economic and staff resources are available to the students, it does suggest that there may

still be deficiencies in these resources that are equally felt by all the students, regardless of race.

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Since race was eliminated as a factor of difference among the students surveyed, I instead

chose now to focus on gender. One question stood out to us when it came to examining gender

differences, and that was Personal Motivation. Societal pressures often put extra pressure on

women to take care of family over their education or careers, and we wanted to see if there was a

relationship between ones gender and ones personal motivation. However, when we conducted

the Chi analysis to check, it came out that we could not reject our null hypothesis yet again. This

means that there isnt a significant relationship between the two genders surveyed and how

motivated they were to graduate.


In examining the students and parents of several local schools, we can determine that

there are indeed concrete barriers to their success such as lack of teacher and parent support,

poverty and other socio-economic barriers and lack of personal motivation and drive. In seeing

students report on these barriers to their success, we sought to see if there were any connections

between their race or gender and how severe these issues were in affecting their experience.

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However, upon doing statistical analysis, we found that those surveyed at the local schools we

profiled experienced the effects of the aforementioned barriers relatively evenly. It would be

more conclusive now, as part of an ongoing project, to examine schools in different areas with

varying racial and economic demographics in order to see if our local area schools are suffering

more from socio-economic barriers that those of other districts. These new research questions,

with our prior research, can help to shape future research and inquiry that will allow us to more

accurately paint a picture of what is affecting students ability to graduate, both locally and


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