Semester of Graduation

Summer 2021

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Geography and Anthropology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Students dropping out of high school is a nationwide problem, plaguing communities and often greatly reducing the prospects of a quality life for those students who do not complete their high school educations. Louisiana consistently has among the highest public high school dropout rates in the United States, and often the highest. This geospatial and statistical study aims to identify the factors that correlate with high school dropout in Louisiana public high schools, specifically, and to produce detailed maps of the dropout rates across the state to identify the schools most afflicted.

Extensive school-level data from five academic years (2014-15 to 2018-19) was compiled to perform correlation analysis between the variables and assess their relationships. In the geospatial component of this study, the average dropout rates for each high school across the state were mapped with ArcGIS Pro.

The correlation analysis revealed many intriguing insights into the relationships between the tested variables and the dropout rates. Many factors that correlate strongly with dropout rates in Louisiana are related to issues that occur outside of the school environment or are things that cannot be fixed easily. However, the two factors to reduce dropout rates that feasibly can be acted upon are: 1) reducing class sizes and 2) expanding the T9 (transitional 9th grade) program in schools where 9th graders drop out of school at high rates.

Concerning the spatial distribution of dropout in Louisiana, as a general statewide trend, the problem is overwhelmingly prevalent in the more populated parts of the state. Rural schools even in impoverished areas tend to have below average dropout rates, while nearly all schools with consistently high dropout rates are in urban areas.

Committee Chair

Leitner, Michael

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