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Taking on the Completion Challenge: A Literature Review on Policies to Prevent Dropout and Early School Leaving


  • Cecilia S. Lyche



This paper reviews international research in the field of dropout from upper secondary education and training in OECD countries in order to present possible solutions to policymakers faced with the completion challenge. The paper begins by presenting existing definitions of dropout and upper secondary completion and states that dropout must be understood as the final step in a process of disengagement that begins early. Causes that lead to dropout in OECD countries are then studied, and the paper illustrates that causes of dropout are highly complex and intertwined. Finally, to address these causes or risk factors, the paper reviews research that had been carried out on piloted or implemented measures across OECD countries. It finds that successful measures address several risk factors and involve action both within school, outside school and at systemic level simultaneously. The paper concludes by presenting a set of solutions according to educational level and emphasizes that preventive measures to reduce dropout should start early. Early identification enables broader, less costly measures to be set up earlier and leaves the more costly one-on-one measures for later stages of education to the remaining at risk students that have not yet been picked up. Overcoming the completion challenge requires a close cooperation between educational authorities and many other parts of government such as social and labour services, health services and justice system in some countries. Ce rapport étudie la recherche internationale dans le domaine du décrochage scolaire dans l'enseignement secondaire au sein des pays de l'OCDE afin de suggérer aux décideurs confrontés à ce défit des solutions possibles. Dans un premier temps, le document présente les définitions existantes et affirme que le décrochage scolaire doit être compris comme la dernière étape d'un processus de désengagement commençant tôt dans la vie éducative de l’élève. Les causes conduisant au décrochage scolaire dans les pays de l'OCDE sont ensuite étudiées, et le rapport montre qu’elles sont non-seulement complexes, mais qu’elles sont étroitement liées. Enfin, pour remédier à ces causes ou facteurs de risque, le rapport étudie la recherche qui porte sur les mesures préventives mises en oeuvre ou mises à l'essai dans les pays de l'OCDE. Il constate que les mesures fructueuses aborde plusieurs facteurs de risque et impliquent une action simultanée au sein de l'école, en dehors de l'école et au niveau systémique. Le rapport conclut en présentant un ensemble de solutions selon le niveau d'éducation et souligne que les mesures préventives pour réduire le décrochage scolaire doivent être prises de bonne heure. L'identification précoce permet la mise en place de mesures globales, moins coûteuses aux premiers stades de l’éducation et relègue la mise en place de mesures individuelles plus coûteuses aux étapes ultérieures. Ces dernières concernent les élèves à risque n’ayant pas encore été identifiés. Surmonter le défi du décrochage scolaire exige une coopération étroite entre les autorités éducatives et de nombreux autres secteurs du gouvernement tels que les services sociaux et de l’emploi, les services de santé et, dans certains pays, le système judiciaire.

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  • Cecilia S. Lyche, 2010. "Taking on the Completion Challenge: A Literature Review on Policies to Prevent Dropout and Early School Leaving," OECD Education Working Papers 53, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:53-en

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Di Liberto, Adriana & Casula, Laura, 2016. "Teacher Assessments versus Standardized Tests: Is Acting "Girly" an Advantage?," IZA Discussion Papers 10458, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Smyth, Emer & Banks, Joanne & Whelan, Adele & Darmody, Merike & McCoy, Selina, 2015. "Review of the School Completion Programme," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS44.

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