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Switching Schools: Reconsidering the Relationship Between School Mobility and High School Dropout

Abstract

"Youth who switch schools are more likely to demonstrate a wide array of negative behavioral and educational outcomes, including dropping out of high school. However, whether switching schools actually puts youth at risk for dropout is uncertain, since youth who switch schools are similar to dropouts in their levels of prior school achievement and engagement, which suggests that switching schools may be part of the same long-term developmental process of disengagement that leads to dropping out. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, this study uses propensity score matching to pair youth who switched high schools with similar youth who stayed in the same school. We find that while over half the association between switching schools and dropout is explained by observed characteristics prior to 9th grade, switching schools is still associated with dropout. Moreover, the relationship between switching schools and dropout varies depending on a youth's propensity for switching schools."

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