Factors Influencing Dropouts' GED & Diploma Attainment

Jeffrey C. Wayman


This study examined correlates of degree attainment in high school dropouts. Participants were high school dropouts of Mexican American or non-Latino white descent who had no degree, a high school degree, or a GED certificate. This study was unique in that it accounted for sample bias of missing data through the use of multiple imputation, it considered students who had dropped out as early as 7th grade, and it was able to include variables found significant in previous research on returning dropouts. Logistic regression analyses identified a parsimonious set of factors which distinguished dropouts who held degrees (diploma or GED) from those who did not. Similar analyses were performed to distinguish participants who had attained diplomas from those who had attained GEDs. It was estimated that 59.2% of dropouts return to obtain high school credentials. School capability, age at dropout, and socio-economic status significantly predicted degree attainment. Presence of children, higher school capability and socio-economic status were associated with GED attainment, while later grade at dropout was associated with diploma attainment. These relationships did not vary by ethnicity, although degree attainment was less likely for Mexican American dropouts. The study concludes that dropping out is not the end of a student's education, and more research should be directed toward returning dropouts. Further, the focus of such research should be expanded to include a more positive and broader range of correlates.


Correlation; Dropouts; Educational Attainment; High School Equivalency Programs; High School Students; High Schools; Mexican Americans; Reentry Students; Socioeconomic Status; White Students

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v9n4.2001

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