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Major Research Study Confirms Effectiveness of Dropout Prevention Strategies Nationwide

The technical report of a new, major research study of dropout prevention strategies has provided evidence of the effectiveness of these strategies, in addition to presenting educators with valid scientific evidence to guide efforts to combat dropout rates in their schools.

The landmark new study, conducted by Old Dominion University's Shanan Chappell Moots, research assistant professor in The Center for Educational Partnerships in the Darden College of Education, provides previously unavailable guidance to teachers, principals, school districts and boards in their selection of dropout tools.

The widely anticipated study and its technical report, "A Meta-Analysis of Dropout Prevention Outcomes and Strategies," can assist policymakers in targeting the distribution of scarce dropout prevention funds. It is hoped that the application of these findings will positively impact the nation's ongoing effort to improve graduation rates.

Chappell Moots is also a research fellow with the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N) at Clemson University in South Carolina. She was the lead researcher on a multi-organization team, including researchers from Kent State University and Clemson, investigating the efficacy of dropout prevention strategies. The strategies investigated by Chappell Moots and her team included mentoring, family engagement and behavioral interventions, among several others.

"Until now, there have been no published analyses of how the dropout rate varies by particular program strategy," Chappell Moots said. "In our analysis, we examined how well each strategy predicts the dropout rate. While we have built upon decades of research in the dropout prevention field, this is what differentiates our study from what others have done."

Jane Bray, dean of the Darden College of Education, said Chappell Moots's work will help generate a roadmap for addressing one of our most pressing social and educational issues.

"This study advances our understanding of how educators can and do ensure that all students have the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to society," she said.

The study further confirms the 15 effective strategies for dropout prevention, identified and defined decades ago by Jay Smink, NDPC/N director from 1986-2012. Smink also contributed the foreword to the new report, providing a history of the identification of effective strategies for dropout prevention used today in many states' school dropout prevention plans.

John A. Nunnery, executive director of the Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion, said the study will substantially enhance collaborations with schools and other partners, and act as a significant resource for those seeking to reduce dropout rates nationwide.

"The report also poignantly demonstrates the need for additional rigorous research on dropout prevention. Of more than 500 studies reviewed, only about one in 10 was sufficiently well-designed to include in a scientific synthesis of outcomes," Nunnery said.

Sandy Addis, NDPC/N interim executive director, added: "We are fortunate to be affiliated with research fellows like Dr. Chappell Moots who are well-versed in the dropout issue, highly skilled in statistical analysis and willing to devote personal energies to developing new tools and information to address one of our nation's most critical social and economic issues - the dropout problem."

Chappell Moots' research colleagues on the project included Patrick O'Connor, associate professor at Kent State; Dolores A. Stegelin, professor of teacher education and early childhood education at Clemson; and Cairen Withington, assistant director at the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network at Clemson.

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