04 SES 07 A, Transition and Dropout From and After School
In educational situations where expectations and learning requirements get higher, students with reading and mathematical difficulties experience many challenges. Students have to compensate for poor reading/mathematical skills with harder work that result in longer workdays and increased pressure, which, in turn, can affect further educational choices e.g. by choosing shorter educational tracks (Goldberg, Higgins, Raskind, & Herman, 2003). Over time, without adequate support, learning difficulties can induce also secondary problems such as poor academic self-concept, and difficulties in maintaining a positive attitude and high motivation especially in demanding learning situations (Levine & Nourse, 1998; McNulty, 2003). Students with reading and mathematical difficulties are also at greater risk for dropping out of school than those without learning difficulties but clearly, dropout from education does not happen suddenly, it is more like a process of gradual disengagement that has been going on for several years before dropout itself occurs (Bear, Kortering, & Braziel, 2006; Kortering & Christenson, 2009). The role of existing educational support system at basic education and after that for staying on educational track is in our research interest in the present study. Namely, findings from earlier studies and meta-analyses indicate that, as a whole, special education fails to prepare youths with learning difficulties to compete for positions in secondary education and working life (Newman, Wagner, Cameto, & Knokey, 2009; Reid, Gonzalez, Nordness, Trout, & Epstein, 2004).
The participants of the study were Finnish adolescents (N = 597, 304 females, 293 males; mean age 15.9) who were followed for five years after graduation from comprehensive school. We wanted to find out, 1) what is the role of part-time special education given to students during the schooldays at basic education (received at grades 1-2, grades 3-6 and grades 7-9) predicting reading and mathematical difficulties at the end of basic education and further, 2) the role of educational support received during secondary education (grades 10-12) in predicting and explaining three different life situations, namely the delayed graduation of secondary education, the short educational career or the situation, where the participants are not in education, employment or training (NEET-situation).
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