A study of drop-outs in St. James, 1962-63

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MacIntosh, Ronald Andrew
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Early withdrawal from school is a well recognized problem, but comparatively little research has been done, in Canada, to relate dropping out of school to its causes. The City of St. James has its share of drop-outs in spite of its many social, economic and educational advantages. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to identify salient factors related to early school withdrawal in this typical urban Manitoba community. They hypothesis was proposed that home factors are more critical in the decision to withdraw from school than are school factors. The method of investigation consisted first of a pilot study to determine the feasibility of an investigation of drop-outs in St. James, then of interviewing one-third of the St. James drop-out population, chosen by random selection, for the school year September 2, 1962 to September 3, 1963. Each interviewee provided personal statistical information as well as personal views on a wide range of factors which might be related to drop-out, and he completed Bell Adjustment Inventory and School Inventory forms. School records supplied additional information. When summarized in tables and analyzed, these data pointed to salient factors in drop-out in both the home and the school. children living in the oldest section of St. James and in the poorest houses were most prone to drop out. Parents with less education and in unskilled occupations were most likely to have drop-out offspring than parents in more skilled jobs. The most critical period in drop-out is at age sixteen and seventeen, or grades nine and ten; and the middle children in large families are more likely to withdraw than others. Male drop-outs were usually smokers, had been truant and had had trouble with the police. Both male and female drop-outs enjoyed part-time employment while students, and most expected to take further training but were ill prepared for it. They were mainly of low normal or dull normal intelligence, and had reading difficulties. Excessive changing of schools, serious failure records, poor attendance, limited homework efforts, a difficulty with study and a reluctance to ask for help or seek extra tuition are related to drop-out, but the actual prospect of failure is not related. Fear of failure is an important factor. The school was a consistently poor area of adjustment but the high incidence of maladjustment in one or another home adjustment area indicates interaction and, when considered with additional personal observations of home problems, tended to affirm the vailidity of the hypothesis.