Dropout prevention: factors contributing to the resiliency of at-risk Hispanic students and their pursuit of a high school diploma
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Dropping out of high school has become a reality for far too many Hispanic high school students. Some estimates have the Hispanic dropout rate at close to 50% (Stutz & Hobbs, 2008). Research on factors contributing to this high dropout rate is well documented and schools across the nation are well aware of the problem. But in spite of this knowledge, the dropout epidemic persists. The purpose of this study was to determine, from a student perspective, what can be done to reduce the number of Hispanic dropouts. Forty-six at-risk Hispanic seniors in a small Texas high school along the Mexican-American border participated in this study by documenting their educational experiences in personal biographies written a few weeks before graduation. From these students 9 were selected to participate in one of four focus group interviews to obtain more detailed information. All students participating in the study were considered to be resilient because of their ability to overcome multiple, identified at-risk traits in their lives. Analysis of the data derived from these students led to the identification of barriers to graduation, ways of overcoming these barriers and ultimately 16 resiliency factors contributing to their successful completion of high school. Implications for students, parents and school personnel are also provided to help illuminate what can be done to help more Hispanics in similar situations to experience the same success as these students by graduating from high school.