A case study of the assignment of withdrawal codes for reporting dropout in two disciplinary alternative schools

Barbara Thompson-Hawkins, Florida International University


Dropout rates are major issues facing any nation's continued economic and social progress. The seriousness of this issue in the United States is evidenced by the recent legislation of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. The purpose of this study was to use the richness of qualitative methodology to analyze inaccuracies in the assignment of withdrawal codes by school administrators in two different disciplinary alternative schools. The primary codes examined were Code 05, any students over the age of 16 who leaves school voluntarily with no intention of returning; Code 15, any PK–12 student who is withdrawn from school due to nonattendance; Code 22, whereabouts unknown; Code 23, no other code can be used to identify the student's reason for leaving school, and Code 26, entering an adult program. The cross-case method was used for this study. The participants were comprised of 19 school personnel and 25 students from two disciplinary alternative schools, designated X and Y, in the Miami-Dade County Public School system, Miami, FL. Data collection procedures included semi-structured interview, observations, field notes, and district documents. With a matrix, these data were analyzed to compare patterns and themes that emerged within both schools. Results indicated that withdrawal codes were assigned inaccurately for two distinct reasons. At School Y, withdrawal codes were inaccurately assigned intentionally to keep the students from returning to a regular school without notification. At School X, withdrawal codes were inaccurately assigned due to lack of ability to properly track students and ascertain the real circumstances for their departure from school. The end result in both cases was that the school systems were not accurately identifying the whereabouts of students. It was recommended that further investigation be conducted to compare the accuracy of reporting dropouts among traditional/regular high schools and disciplinary alternative schools.

Subject Area

School administration

Recommended Citation

Thompson-Hawkins, Barbara, "A case study of the assignment of withdrawal codes for reporting dropout in two disciplinary alternative schools" (2005). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3169477.