Mississippi College

Student Dropout Rate Explored By Mississippi College Professors

May 9, 2014

Louisiana’s longstanding high school student dropout problem is getting the attention of two Mississippi College educators.

A detailed analysis of 31,641 Louisiana children by professors Stephen Trouard and Bobby Franklin is published in “Schooling,” an on-line academic journal appealing to scholars around the globe.

Trouard’s interest in the topic was kindled by the difficulty isolating factors prompting students to become high school dropouts.

“It is such a critical problem today,” says Trouard, a Mississippi College business professor. “Any steps toward identifying and reducing the impact of these factors is a very strong contribution to the field.”

The MC professors examined Louisiana data on students who began their high school studies in 2003. Their report tracked students who either graduated or dropped out of Louisiana schools by 2007.

U.S. Department of Education data show Louisiana’s 71 percent high school graduation rate is tied with Florida for 44th in the U.S. In other words, the dropout rate stood at an alarming 29 percent for both Southern states. Louisiana’s graduation rate was 64 percent for economically disadvantaged students.

Franklin has worked with dropout numbers for more than two decades in Louisiana. When he left the Bayou State several years ago, Louisiana was establishing a dropout tracking system.

“I was interested to know whether the indicators were effectively discriminating between dropouts and graduates,” Franklin said.

Their research was successfully submitted to “Schooling,” a four-year-old publication under the National FORUM Journals based in Houston, Texas.

The Mississippi College professors “wrote a significant and highly impressive article,” said William Allan Kritsonis, editor-in-chief of National FORUM Journals. “The findings have serious implications for student retention practices within public schools both nationally and internationally.”

An education professor at the University of Texas at Permian Basin in Odessa, Kritsonis says he was impressed because their study looked at more than 31,000 students in Louisiana public schools. That’s a large number for any study, he noted.

The research is useful to other states battling high student dropout rates.

U.S. Department of Education reports say Mississippi’s high school graduation rate in 2010-11 was 75 percent or a 25 percent dropout rate. The graduation rate in the Magnolia State was only 69 percent for students considered economically disadvantaged. Some areas of the state reported a 35 percent dropout rate last year.

In Mississippi, Louisiana and a number of other states, “not a lot of progress is being made” to curb high school dropout rates, says Franklin, a Brandon resident. “The push to improve reading is good.”

Typically, states with more affluent populations, such as Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Minnesota, have lower high school dropout rates.

MC School of Education Dean Marcelo Eduardo applauds the contributions that Dr. Trouard, a Flowood resident, made to the paper published in early May.

“This is another example of the outstanding and highly relevant research that School of Business faculty like Dr. Trouard carry out consistently,” Eduardo said. “We are certainly proud of this accomplishment.”

Franklin and Trouard are partnering on a new study spotlighting the effectiveness of dropout indicators two years earlier, starting with sixth graders.

For more information, go to www.nationalforum.com and click on the “Schooling” journal.

Photo: MC School of Business professor Stephen Trouard

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