UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

High school "drop-outs" : a reconnaissance survey of some of the personal and social factors, with special reference to superior students, Vancouver, 1959-1960 Wayman, Sara Gertrude


Students who withdraw from high school before graduating constitute a group of increasing public concern. The present thesis is a "reconnaissance", to gain some idea of dimensions, and of factors associated with school "drop-outs", with special reference to superior students, (1) The Permanent School Record cards of every student who had left school during the 1959-60 school year were reviewed for seven Vancouver secondary schools. Excluded from the study were (a) involuntary "drop-outs", over which the school had no control, and (b) transfers to other school systems, including some situations where there was insufficient information. (2) As the second stage of the study, record cards of fifty students who had intelligence ratings of 120 or over were examined for indications as to their performance (a) at school, (b) at home, and (c) in the community. (3) Twelve students in one school were then selected for more intensive exploration, this being done through interviews with students, parents, grade counsellors, special counsellors, school nurse, and social agencies. Examination of the total group of "drop-outs" indicated that their general level of intelligence was somewhat lower than that required for high school graduation. More than half the group were retarded for their age and grade. The largest number of "drop-outs" occurred in Grade XII and among the 18-year-olds. More boys than girls left school prematurely. Among the special group of superior children the largest number also occurred in Grade XU and among the 18-year-olds. But unlike the total group, they were not retarded for their age and grade. More than half were children of manual workers, both skilled and unskilled. An equal number of boys and girls were involved. In nearly every case the student had had some previous experience of failure in his school career, which in this group could be interpreted as an indication of malfunction, (personal, social or educational) rather than lack of ability. Absence from school for more than ten days in the year also appeared to be associated with failure to complete graduation. Geographic mobility did not appear to be a cause. Most of the children who left school prematurely had families who were experiencing varying degrees of stress, but who claimed to value education highly. There is evidence that these students, typically, had personality difficulties. They lacked the discipline necessary to postpone recreation in order to study. With a few exceptions they seemed to be getting along well in every area of their life except that of student. They were successful in finding work, although below their capacity, even in a period of high unemployment. They did not make use of the counselling services that were available to them. The degree of understanding and acceptance of social and personal problems apparently varies widely among the school staff. They are able to recognize under-achievement, but in general do not refer this problem to the special counsellor service. While the number of seriously disturbed adolescents is small, the need for adequate treatment facilities for them is urgent. More uniform recording of information about school "drop-outs" is needed for future research. Financial assistance, where necessary, should be provided at the high school level in cases of proven capacity. The need for appropriate extensions of counselling service is apparent.

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