Student News

Trip Stallings recognized for article on high school dropouts

Trip Stallings, a third-year Ph.D. student in Education; Culture, Curriculum and Change, recently received an award from the Governmental Research Association (GRA) for an article that sheds light on the issue of high school dropouts across the state.  The article, titled “Missing Persons: Understanding and Addressing High School Dropouts in North Carolina,” appears in the most recent edition of North Carolina Insight, the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research journal.    

Awarded a certificate of merit at the state level, the article was one of six studies honored in the category of Outstanding Policy Achievement.

In addition to providing demographic data on who drops out and when, Stallings’ article explores many reasons why students drop out of high school. He distinguishes between “push” and “pull” factors, defining push factors as school experiences that tend to push a student out of school, such as a school’s capacity to accommodate those who learn differently.  Pull factors, on the other hand, are external family and environmental pressures that tend to pull a student away from school, such as pregnancy. 

The article offers policy recommendations to help address the problem of high school dropouts in North Carolina. It suggests that the state should expand its effort to understand the dropout problem through continued reporting of four-year cohort graduation rates as well as four-year cohort dropout rates. The article also recommends that more real-world elements be added to the high school curricula, such as service learning, internships and career exploration, making it more relevant to non-college-bound students. Other recommendations include evaluating existing dropout prevention programs and studying the impact of raising compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18.  

The purpose of the GRA awards is to recognize exceptional research on state and local governmental issues performed by staff members of governmental research agencies.  The award was bestowed at the GRA’s 94th Annual Conference, held in August in Denver, Colo.

 Established in 1914, the GRA is the national organization of individuals professionally engaged in governmental research.  The aim of the Association is to encourage individuals and organizations to participate in governmental research of general interest.