Prevention Science

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 468–478 | Cite as

A Meta-analysis of the Effects of Dropout Prevention Programs on School Absenteeism

  • Emily E. Tanner-SmithEmail author
  • Sandra Jo Wilson


This study reports findings from a systematic review and meta-analysis of literature examining the effects of school dropout prevention and intervention programs on students’ school absenteeism outcomes. The meta-analysis synthesized 74 effect sizes measuring posttest differences in school absenteeism outcomes for youth enrolled in dropout prevention programs relative to a comparison group. Although results from randomized controlled trials indicated significant beneficial program effects, findings from quasi-experimental studies indicated no significant beneficial or detrimental effects. Examination of study characteristics suggested that dropout programs may have beneficial effects on school absenteeism among primarily male samples, and younger samples. Although no single type of intervention program was consistently more effective than others, vocational oriented and supplemental academic training programs showed some promise. However, the inconsistency in results and the possibility of small study bias mean the quality of evidence in this literature is low; at this time there is not enough evidence to conclude that dropout prevention programs have a universal impact on youth’s school absenteeism outcomes.


Dropout prevention Meta-analysis School absenteeism School attendance Truancy 


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human and Organizational DevelopmentPeabody Research Institute, Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Special EducationPeabody Research Institute, Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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