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Preventing Student Disengagement

Preventing Student Disengagement

This article considers the practical, conceptual, and empirical foundations of an early identification and intervention system for middle-grades schools to combat student disengagement and increase graduation rates in our nation’s cities. Many students in urban schools become disengaged at the start of the middle grades, which greatly reduces the odds that they will eventually graduate.


We use longitudinal analyses—following almost 13,000 students from 1996 until 2004—to demonstrate how four predictive indicators reflecting poor attendance, misbehavior, and course failures in sixth grade can be used to identify 60% of the students who will not graduate from high school. Fortunately, by combining effective whole-school reforms with attendance, behavioral, and extra-help interventions, graduation rates can be substantially increased.

Download the Full Report

Download the full report, available here in pdf.

Preventing Student Disengagement and Keeping Students on the Graduation Path in Urban Middle-Grades Schools: Early Identification and Effective Interventions. Robert Balfanz, Lisa Herzog, Douglas J. Mac Iver. EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST, 42(4), 223–235 Copyright 2007, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

  1. maria luisa guerra11-04-12

    Three weeks ago, I read this report, Preventing Student Disengagement, and decided to share it along with another article titled Developing Early Warning Systems to Identify Potential High School Dropouts with our seven middle school principals in our school district.
    I told them, “We now have the blueprint for what we need to do to improve our high school completion rate”. Well, they all embraced the ABC Model and I am excited to share with you that each principal has implemented a new initiative that identified their 6th graders meeting the criteria for being off the graduation path. In their own creative ways, they have paired these students with school mentors.
    I have no doubt Dr. Balfanz’s model will work with our students.
    As a doctoral student working on my dissertation at the University of Texas at Pan American, I recently became acquainted with Dr. Balfanz’s research and I am very glad I did. Last Tuesday, 10/29/12, I emailed Dr. Balfanz requesting information on the theoretical model he used for the research study Preventing Student Disengagement. I would like to use his theoretical framework for my dissertation study on Hispanic high school dropouts.
    Maria Luisa Guerra
    Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction
    with the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District

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