A Correlation and Regression Analysis of Dropout Predictors for Latinos With and Without LEP: Implications for Policy and School Leadership Open Access
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Indirect evidence has pointed to an increased likelihood of English Language Learners (ELL) or students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) of dropping out of school compared to their native English-speaking counterparts. More than 40% of Latino students are ELL. In an effort to reduce the gap in achievement for LEP students, it is important to understand ELL students and the associated risk factors characterizing them and formulate appropriate strategies in addressing their specific needs. In this study, the researcher evaluated the LEP students by focusing on the Latino sub-group. Given that Latinos have the highest attrition rate in the United States, the purpose of this study was to assess how LEP status correlates to school dropout amongst Latinos and other multiple factors leading to school dropout. In addition, the researcher addressed and explored three core research questions: (a) How does the dropout rate for Latinos, identified as LEP, change over time compared to that of Latinos without LEP? (b) What is the average academic performance of Latino students with LEP in math and reading state assessments compared to Latinos without LEP? and (c) How do school dropout rate predictors associated with Latino students with LEP, such as age, grade, gender, student background, mobility, retention, and suspension history influence dropout rate over time? The answers to these questions will help researchers and professionals in defining the solutions relating to the Latino dropout problem. In order to achieve this, the researcher followed the positivist paradigm in understanding the phenomena under investigation, gathering the data and the design of the methodology in general. Participants in the study were Latino students in a school district in the state of Virginia. Overall, the sample population for this study consisted of 13,503 students in elementary school (to grade 5), middle school (grade 6 to grade 8) and high school (grade 9 to grade 12) in a Virginia public school district. The researcher used correlation and regression analysis to determine the relationship between dropout predictors and Latino dropouts. The major findings of this study concluded that LEP status has a significant correlation with school dropout rates amongst Latinos. Latinos with LEP status had a higher risk of dropping out of school over time than those who are proficient in English. Additionally, Latino students with LEP status were found to exhibit lower academic performance than their counterparts without LEP. Moreover, findings of this study reveal that the key school dropout rate predictors, especially age, suspension history, mobility, grade, and retention influence school dropout rate over time. The researcher did not find gender and socio economic status (SES) to exhibit significant correlations with dropout rate amongst Latino students with LEP. School and district leaders are charged with reducing the achievement gap as well as increase the graduation rate in all sub-groups, especially Latinos. Therefore, state and federal policies need to provide realistic guidelines to address the achievement gap within the U.S. educational system. For instance, the results can assist policymakers in developing better assessment and testing criteria for ELL students, improving ELL teacher training, improving all teacher training to include ELL instructional practices, expanding graduation requirements to align with Second Language Acquisition Theory (SLA), revising policies on education at both local and deferral state levels, as well as advocating for increased funds to be channeled to districts and schools. It is expected that the study implications will contribute towards effective measures and interventions to address the problem of Latino dropouts.