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This paper reviews research on best practices for preventing students with mild disabilities from dropping out of high school. Findings from the literature review indicate there is a consensus among the researchers that warning signs for school dropout among students with mild disabilities include: poor attendance, academic difficulties, behavioral problems, and social alienation. Most studies did show a positive correlation between particular interventions and one or several of these variables. Interventions described in all of the research-based studies showed some common components. First, all studies included monitoring of selected dependent variables. The studies that achieved the best results modified individual student interventions during the program based upon data collected through this on-going monitoring. Second, most studies included an element of relationship building which often involved home/school connections. In addition, an effort to build affiliation between the student and the school characterized the more successful studies. Often, though not always, peer tutoring was the instrument used to build this affiliation. Most gains shown throughout these studies, however, have been short-term. In four of the studies described, the gains were documented for less than 1 year. The paper concludes with recommendations for school administrators and teachers.

Original Citation

Sutherland, M. & MacMillan, R. (2001). Preventing high school dropout among students with mild disabilities: A literature review. (ERIC Document Reproduction service No. ED456610).