Effects of Social Stratification on Education

Race, Geography, Gender, Deviance, Oppression, and Social Stratification on Educational

Effects of Race, Geography, Gender, Deviance, Oppression, and Social Stratification on Education

High school dropout cases have occurred as a silent epidemic that has affected the nation. In the U.S., dropout cases have disproportionately affected young people, especially those from low-income families, ethnic minority groups, urban children, and single-parent children that join public schools. Statistics indicates that about 30% of public high school students in the U.S. fail to graduate (Heckman & LaFontaine 15). In this paper, we endeavor to demystify this high school dropout issue, an aspect that affects educational institutions. Identification of the prevalence and risk factors associated with high school dropouts facilitates the understanding of the reasons behind this issue and how best to solve them.


Research puts high school graduation rate at 68-71%. The rate at which minority students, including the Native Americans, Blacks, and Hispanics graduate from public high schools depicts a decline of about 50%. In contrast, Asian and white communities, depict graduation rates between 75-77% (Heckman & LaFontaine 73). Female graduate rates also depict slightly higher rates compared to their male counterparts. The high school dropout issue affects all areas, including rural, suburban, and areas within towns and cities.

In 2003, for example, 3.5 million young people aged between16-25 did not have a high school diploma. Additionally, this group did not enroll in school. In the past few years, this statistic has not indicated any substantial improvement. Despite the position of educational reforms as part of the nation’s vital agenda, the dropout issue seems not to improve anytime soon. Experts have echoed the significance of this challenge as they warn that the issue may substantially increase through 2020. It is a call for radical improvements in the educational sector to mitigate this issue (Heckman & LaFontaine 35).

Individual Predictors of High School dropouts

At the individual level, factors may cause high school dropout includes attitudes, educational performance, attitudes, background, and behaviors.

I. Educational Performance

Research literature has widely identified strong predictors of public high school dropout cases to various factors that include:

Mostly, academic achievement in elementary and middle school levels. In this case, grades occur as a consistent predictor compared to test scores.

Grades and test scores in high school.

Retention of students in elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Non-promotional school changes in middle and high school levels.

II. Behaviors

Diverse courses of behavior have occurred as a strong predictor to high school dropout cases. Student engagement encompasses the active involvement of students in academic work. It also includes social aspects of the students such as the participation in sports and other extra curriculum activities. Consistencies in research have identified high absenteeism as a significant indicator of the high cases of school dropouts regarding student engagement. Other behavioral traits associated with the high school dropout cases include delinquent and misbehavior outside the school. Drug and alcohol abuse also explain this issue. Childbearing and teenage parenting increases the chances of high school dropouts. Friends of the students also influence the dropout rates. Students with friends engaged in criminal activities may increase the odds of high school dropouts. Associations with friends engaged in criminal activities may begin in seventh grade. Additionally, students that spend most of their time working, for example, about 20 hours a week increase the chances of dropping out of school.

III. Attitudes

Student achievement also links with student’s beliefs, attitudes, and values. As a result, students that depict high educational expectations exhibit lower chances of dropping out of school unlike those that have lower educational expectations. The link between student’s attitudes and educational progress comes in handy in explaining this shift.

IV. Background

Experiences and demographical factors come in handy in the exploration of background traits of students. Males exhibit a higher level of school dropouts compared to female students. The two largest minority groups, the Hispanics, and African-Americans have depicted high levels of high school dropout cases compared to other groups such as the Whites and Asians. A key contributor to the Hispanic dropout cases occurs as the lack of English proficiency (Heckman & LaFontaine 56). In contrast, neighborhood characteristics explain the high levels of African-American dropouts.

The significance of educational skills reflects economic outcome such as earnings and employment for the educated lot compared to those that have dropped out of school. Factors engulfed this issue of the race include income, parental education, and family background. Other determinants include school characteristics, peer effects, and the neighborhood the students live.

Studies have also indicated that students with a foreign-born child, especially Latino students depict higher success levels of graduating compared to students that emanate from first and third generation families. Students that lack high proficiency in English tend to drop out of school, especially the Latinos compared to those that depict higher levels of English proficiency.

V. Institutional Predictors

Studies on this subject have highlighted various factors associated with schools dropouts within schools, families, and communities of the students. All of these factors envisage the high level of school dropouts.


Family resources, structures, and practices act as vital elements that predict whether students will graduate or not. Students that live with both parents exhibit higher graduation rates compared to those living with single parents or other different family arrangements. Changes in family structure, for example, divorce and other stressful events that include illness, deaths, and marital disruptions contribute to an increase in dropout cases of high school students (U.S. Department of Education, 2011).

Students living in more stable homes, measured by educational and occupational successes of their parents are less likely to drop out of school. Students emanating from higher income leveled families depict less likelihood of dropping out of school. Parenting practices also referred to as social capital or resources also reduces the odds of school dropouts. Parenting practices include high educational aspirations that parents hold on their children, monitoring their school progress, having knowledge of the parents of their children friends’, and frequent communication between the school and the parents. Additionally, families that may have students that dropped out may result in a case where another child drops out of school.


The variability in the cases of school dropouts also includes attributes depicted by schools. These factors include the school’s policies and practices, structural features, and the composition of the student body. Students from more advantaged families depict lower cases of high school dropouts (U.S. Department of Education 20). At times, students may find that practices uphold in the school fail to favor them. As a result, they drop out of school. Students attending public schools with stronger academic climate are less likely to drop out compared to those that attend schools that fail to portray strong academic performance attributes. Public schools with poor disciplinary climate also depict the possibility of having the students to drop out compared to other with a strong disciplinary record.


Communities come in handy in the development of adolescents based on the aspects of peers, families, and schools. For example, living in an affluent neighborhood contributes to the success of graduating from high school. In contrast, living in a high-poverty neighborhood may contribute to school dropout associated with low-income levels.


Over the past decade, stakeholders within the educational sector have depicted a growing interest in this subject. Research studies have unfounded the factors behind the high school dropout cases in the country. The significance of the problem considers the investment into the public education system in the U.S. Performance and the behavior of students in school influence the choice of students regarding their stay or quitting public schools. School dropouts occur more of a process rather than an event. The thoughts of quitting school may commence as early as elementary school. Contextual aspects of families, communities, and schools play a crucial role in depicting the likelihood of students graduating or dropping out of school. Access to social resources such as supportive relationships between the students, schools, communities, and families suffices retention rates of public schools.


Despite the increased call on the significance of education, statistics still indicate of stalled high school completion rates among students in the U.S., especially those in public schools. Globalization sufficed by economic and social changes have placed the U.S. at a competitive edge as a superpower. Primarily, education occurs as a vital aspect to propel the development of human capital to their highest capacities. Matching global job market requirements call for higher educational levels. Historically, children of color, those from low-income families, those in public school systems, and the undereducated have suffered the brunt of missing the available job opportunities. Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama in collaboration of SNL comedian Jay Pharaoh released a hip-hop song aimed at encouraging kids to receive college education after graduating from high school (Brait 1).

It is a call for educational stakeholders to support the implementation of personalized interventions aimed at providing students with social and emotional support to facilitate the learning process. Recent acts by Michelle Obama in her rap song echoes the increasing call for students to understand the solidity and significance of education for a ‘brighter future.’ Additionally, the government must tackle this situation basing on the pertinent factors that derail students from graduating from high school.

Works Cited

Brait, Ellen. (2015, Dec 10). “Flotus on the Track: Michelle Obama’s Rap Video Hypes Going to College.” The Guardian. 10 Dec. 2015. Web. 16 Dec 2015.

Heckman, James. & LaFontaine, Paul. (May 2010). “The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels.” NCBI (2010). doi: 10.1162/rest.2010.12366. Web. 16 Dec 2015

U.S. Department of Education. “Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972-2009.” IES 2012-006 (2011). Web. 16 Dec 2015

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