05 SES 07, School Dropout: Individual and Family Risk Factors, and School Characteristics
Dropping out of secondary and, particularly, of primary school, represents a serious problem, not only for the individual, but for the whole society. Students who drop out of the school are later likely to become dependent on welfare and to live below the poverty line, being socially excluded (Christle, Jolivette & Nelson, 2007; Nevala et al., 2011). Cutting the number of young people who leave education early is one of the five key targets of the Europe 2020 strategy to boost growth and create jobs (Europe 2020, 2010) and therefore, many countries are striving to define system and school measures that could prevent children from dropping out at different levels of schooling.
In the last decade overarching education reforms, aimed at moving towards the standards and practices of EU countries, have been taking place in Serbia. The Law on the fundamentals of educational system from 2009 introduced equality and accessibility of education for all children in principle (Art. 3). The measures of support to children from marginalized and vulnerable social groups envisioned by the Law comprise affirmative action and introduction of services of a pedagogical assistant and a person accompanying the child (Art. 117), as well as the right to additional educational support at all levels of education in the form of Individual Education Plan (Art. 77). Preparatory preschool programs lasting for at least nine months were introduced as obligatory for all children and it was made possible to enter them without personal documents. At the same time, many changes regarding teacher education were introduced. According the Law from 2009 all new teachers have been required to have a master's degree in education and a minimum of 30 ECTS in pedagogical-psychological-methodical courses and 6 ECTS of school practice. According to Rulebook from 2012 teachers have been required to achieve at least 120 points in 5 years through different forms of professional development, some of them being courses dealing with inclusion, multicultural education and dropout. Despite these measures, dropout rates in Serbia are still high – more than 15% of the children from one generation do not complete even primary school, according to the Strategy of development of education in Serbia by 2020. This Strategy foresaw that the dropout rates for the primary school must drop below 5%, which is in line with Europe 2020 strategy.
Since the schools are active settings that may help or hinder student success and since school factors related to dropout have not yet been investigated in Serbian context, the goal of this study was to determine the school factors that are related to dropout of the primary and secondary school and to propose measures at the school and local community level that could prevent students from dropping out. We were focused at the children who left the primary or secondary school without completing the grade they had entered that school year (and without possibility to get the marks and degree) and at the children who finished primary school, but have not enrolled any secondary school.
Christle, C. A., Jolivette, K. & Nelson, C. M. (2007). School Characteristics Related to High School Dropout Rates. Remedial and Special Education, 28(6), 325–339. European Commission (2010). EUROPE 2020. A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Brussels: European Commission. Ferrell, C. M., Daniel, L. G. (1993). Construct validation of an instrument measuring teacher career motivation. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the Mid-South Educational Research Association (New Orleans, November 10–12, 1993). Law on the Fundamentals of the Education System (2009). Službeni glasnik RS, br. 72/2009 Nevala, A., Hawley, J., Stokes, D., Slater, K., Souto Otero, M., Santos, R., Duchemin, C.& Manoudi, A. (2011). Reducing early school leaving in the EU, Brussels: European Parliament. Strategy of development of education in Serbia by 2020 (2012). Službeni glasnik RS, br. 107/2012
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