The purpose of this study is to examine the availability of CTE programs in the United States based on poverty concentration in the community, and the participation in them by DOP students. This literature review will provide an overview of the issues and topics pertinent to the purpose of this study.

The review of the literature will provide information surrounding the factors that impact this study; DOP students, CTE Programs, and poverty. First, the literature on DOP students will be presented. This overview will frame the nature of the issues that impact DOP students. It will begin with the definition of the term at-risk, to provide perspective for how the use of the concept has developed over time. Then, characteristics and circumstances of DOP students will be presented to contextualize their life experiences. Finally, an analysis of the poverty literature will be conducted, viewed through the lens of the impact SES has on DOP students.

Then, the policies and programs that have been attempted to alleviate the dropout problem will be presented. Each attempt produced some level of success. They positively impacted the lives of students to some extent and helped some DOP students to complete school, but none surfaced as a panacea to resolve the DOP problem. Productive elements of each program materialized as strategies which can be used in other settings to improve instruction and student retention. Their contribution to the success of DOP students will be reviewed to ensure a balanced review of available programs.

Last, this chapter will examine CTE programs to understand the context through which they can contribute to DOP efforts. A history of CTE programs will explain how they have developed over time. An analysis of these programs and their impact on DOP students will be conducted. The concept of CTE programs will be explored. Benefits of enriching educational programs will be examined. The reported experiences of both teacher and students will be evaluated to determine the factors that influence success by analyzing the impact of each study’s variables. Student performance in the CTE setting will be analyzed to determine the factors that may influence academic growth. The potential for CTE programs as an enriching educational program to combat the dropout problem will be explored through an analysis of the CTE strategies that improve at-risk student performance. The chapter will end by providing the conceptual framework of the study, then with a summary of the content.

Dropout Prevention Students

Students who are at-risk of dropping out of school are referred to as dropout prevention students. The term “at-risk” was first used by The National Commission on Excellence in Education to describe an economically and socially endangered society in the United States. Its continued use in subsequent reports from the Council of Chief State School Officers, Education Commission of the States, and the National Coalition for Advocates of Students used the term to describe students by their high probability of school failure (Placier, 1993).

The National Impact of Dropping Out. Those students who drop out of school have financial and social impact on society. The United States would benefit from $45 billion more in tax revenues and reduced spending in healthcare, crime, and welfare if the number of high school dropouts among 20year-olds were cut in half (Broom, 2010). Overall, dropouts cost the U.S. $240 billion in lost wages and taxes. Dropouts face a higher risk for substance addiction, low socioeconomic status, welfare, and imprisonment (Doran, 2005). In some states high school dropouts make up 60% of the prison population (Young, 2008).

Chapman, Laird, & Kewal-Ramani (2010) contend that the decision to drop out of high school is related to a multitude of negative outcomes, including; an average annual salary of $23,000 – a figure $19,000 below the average salary of a high school graduate. Further, a lower percentage of adults who dropped out are in the labor force and dropouts are more likely to suffer from poor health. On average, the individual dropout costs an additional $240,000 to taxpayers over their lifetimes as a result of higher reliance on Medicare/Medicaid, higher rates of criminal activity, higher reliance on welfare, and lower overall tax contributions.

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