My study is about programs to help identify at-risk youth and help them graduate. Deviant behavior is diverse in United States culture. Social deviance is defined as “Social deviance is a sociological term describing undesirable social behavior. Through the understanding of deviance and how it impacts society, sociologists have developed theories intended to predict, explain and potentially resolve aberrant behavior” (eHow.com, 2012). Part of the predominant cultural United States is the expectation of graduating from high school. When an individual chooses not to complete high school they are participating in cultural diversity by choosing not to be a part of the United States mainstream culture.
About one third students the United States at any time are in danger of academically failing while in high school. Many of these students display behavioral problems, low scores on standardized tests, and increased frequency in repeating courses or grades, and increased rates of dropping out of school. These same students are more likely to come from families of divorce, living in poverty, with higher levels of stress, and/or increased incidents of violence. Identifying such environmental factors having programs available to target and assist these teams to encourage them and provide them with tools necessary to succeed academically and stay in school will increase graduation rates.
Mentoring programs are present in many high schools and have proven to be successful in retention of high risk students. By providing at-risk students with the positive adult role model the chances of the same students developing behavioral issues is greatly reduced. In the article by Hickman and Wright (2011), official school data over a period of 10 years was used to provide valid results. Their study demonstrated that the sooner students are identified as at risk, the more successful mentoring programs will be in assisting the students in completing high school (Hickman & Wright, 2011).
Despite the efforts made to improve retention rates of all high school students the United States, approximately 25% of students never graduate from high school. One of the main issues leading to students deciding to drop out of high school is grade retention. School districts are faced with the difficult task and deciding how to handle this problem. Some districts no longer practice grade retention, but many question whether or not this is a true benefit the students. If students are passed on from year to year without gaining the basic skills that should have been learned, are they really receiving any benefit? Another issue facing the states and school districts is mandated assessment testing. If students are not retained, and they perceived to the next grade level, they then take the state assessment tests. Since they have been promoted without learning the minimum skills required from previous grades they do not perform well on the assessment tests, which in turn hurts the schools in the districts. It is a situation to which there is no easy answer (Bowers, 2010).
More important than standardized test scores are the long-term consequences for students that choose to drop out of school.
There cultural diversity leads to diversity in society as well. This diversity then leads to deviant behaviors. Students who drop out are more likely to become adults with drug and alcohol dependency. They are also more likely to be depressed and feel isolated. The combination of these feelings and dependent seas make them more likely to join gangs, engage in violent acts, and have an increased risk of incarceration. The students who drop out are more likely to be from minority cultures, more likely to be unemployed, and over the course of their lifetime will earn less than half of the salaries of someone with a high school diploma. Knowing and understanding all of these risks have helped many districts invest in alternative education programs for at-risk students to try to increase their graduation rates. Although more expensive in the beginning the investment is far less expensive than the end and it is becoming more parents that the education for all students is priceless (Lagana-Riordan, Aguilar, Franklin, Streeter, Kim, Tripodi, & Hopson, 2011).
Bowers, A. J. (2010). Grades and Graduation: A Longitudinal Risk Perspective to Identify
Deviance. (2011). In eHow.com. Retrieved from
Hickman, G. P., & Wright, D. (2011). Academic and School Behavioral Variables as Predictors
of High School Graduation among At-Risk Adolescents Enrolled in a Youth-Based
Mentoring Program. Journal Of At-Risk Issues, 16(1), 25-33.
Lagana-Riordan, C. M., Aguilar, J. P., Franklin, C., Streeter, C.L., Kim, J.S., Tripod, S.J., & Hopson, L. M.
(2011). At-Risk Students' Perceptions of Traditional Schools and a
Solution-Focused Public Alternative School. Preventing School Failure, 55(3), 105.