Does providing service-learning grants affect school districts' high school dropout rates?
Trager, Carolyn D.
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. This thesis provides an empirical analysis of the impact service-learning has on high school dropout rates. Specifically, it examines whether school districts that receive Learn and Serve America grants to support service-learning have statistically different high school dropout rates than do districts that do not. The paper is based on the hypothesis that districts that receive grants have lower dropout rates than do socioeconomically, racially, and ethnically comparable school districts that do not. The relationship between service-learning and high school dropout rate was examined through ordinary least squares regression to assess whether there was a statistically significant relationship between the two variables and whether this relationship remains robust across all three models employed. Data from both the California Department of Education and Learn and Serve America were utilized in the ordinary least squares regression analysis.; The analysis revealed that districts receiving grants for service-learning programs, on average, had lower district-wide dropout rates. However, the difference between grant recipients and non-recipients was not statistically significant. Similar to previous research, my analysis revealed that districts with larger proportions of minority students and federal free and reduced lunch recipients, on average, had higher district-wide dropout rates than did comparable districts with lower proportions of students with these characteristics. Conversely, districts with higher percentages of students scoring proficient or above on English Language Arts (ELA) exams had lower dropout rates, on average.; Based on this research, dropout prevention efforts ought to continue to focus on minority and low income students. Special attention should be placed on the acquisition of ELA skills. Additionally, due to the negative relationship between the serving-learning and dropout rate variables, districts ought to consider incorporating service-learning programs into curriculum. However, future research that controls for the quality of the service-learning programs and the caliber of the district leadership is needed to assess whether there is a statistically significant difference between the dropout rates of districts that provide service-learning, through Learn and Serve America grants, and those that do not.
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