Educational policy makers have questioned the effects of school reforms on at-risk students. Are higher academic standards associated with greater numbers of dropouts? This study examines school average dropout rates for 2 consecutive years in conjunction with percentage covered by Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC), total enrollment, achievement, and academic course enrollments for all of California's regular public high schools. Both AFDC percentage and total enrollment were associated with higher dropout rates. Higher achievement was associated with lower dropout rates even after statistically controlling AFDC percentage and total enrollment. The year-to-year stability of school dropout rates and their correlations with the other study variables were assessed. The findings suggest that school effectiveness measures that result in higher student achievement may also enhance the effectiveness of dropout treatment programs.
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