05 SES 03 A, School Dropout
Parallel Paper Session
Background, research questions and theoretical framework
Dropout from upper secondary education is a critical and persistent issue across nations. Increased completion is given high priority by the government in Norway, as it is all around the world. Since the implementation of a comprehensive reform in 1994, the situation has been remarkably stable: Around 70 per cent of each cohort complete, measured after five years, a little less than 20 per cent drop out and the rest either do not pass all exams or use more than five years (Statistics Norway 2011).
In one of Norway’s nineteen counties, Finnmark, the situation is dramatic: in the last cohort measured so far, those who started in 2005, only 52 per cent completed five years later.
We have performed a study in Finnmark with the following main research question: Which factors may contribute in explaining the significantly higher level of dropout and lower level of completion in upper secondary education in Finnmark, compared to other parts of Norway?
We are comparing the results from rural Finnmark with the findings in a similar study that we conducted in and around the capital a few years earlier (Markussen, Frøseth & Sandberg 2011).
Studies around the world reveal several common factors affecting dropout and completion in upper secondary education: Family background, demographic factors, engagement in schooling, the students’ knowledge and abilities when entering upper secondary education, and the educational context (Lamb, Markussen, Teese, Sandberg & Polesel, 2011, Rumberger 2011). Analyses in Norway have identified the same factors (Markussen et al. 2011).
Individual factors have been given a lot of atention, but recent studies (Lamb et al. 2011, Markussen et al. 2011, Rumberger 2011) indicate that social gaps in dropout and completion depend on institutional arrangements and structural features as well. The reasons for early school leaving may differ according to particular study program and schools, as well as economic conditions and broader historical-cultural factors where the students live.
As a consequence, we have, in addition to examining individual factors, focused on identifying factors affecting dropout and completion on the institutional and the societal level. As an example, we have asked how the relative effects on upper secondary achievements are moderated or intensified by differences between the schools and the study programs that young people attend, or by the social and economic conditions and broader historical-cultural features of their communities.
Lamb, S., Markussen, E., Teese, R., Sandberg, N., & Polesel, J. (eds) (2011). School dropout and completion: international comparative studies in theory and policy, Springer: Dordrecht. Markussen, E., Frøseth, M.W. & Sandberg, N. (2011). Reaching for the Unreachable: Identifying Factors Predicting Early School Leaving and Non-completion in Norwegian Upper Secondary Education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research. Routledge: London. Rumberger, Russell (2011). Dropping out. Why students drop out of high school and what can be done about it. Harvard University Press: Cambridge Statistics Norway (2011). Better throughput for pupils with high marks http://www.ssb.no/english/subjects/04/02/30/vgogjen_en/
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