Teenage parenting and high school dropouts: understanding students' academic, social, and personal influences



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Texas Tech University


Adolescent mothers are faced with multiple risk factors that may prevent them from graduating from high school. The first goal of this study was to examine adolescent mothers’ academic, social, and personal influences related to high school dropout. The second goal was to examine the Resiliency Framework for mothers who dropped out of school and the mothers who continued their education. The third goal was to explore how adolescent mothers perceive their academic, social, and personal influences and to determine whether resilience differ in each group.

This study used the existing database of the National Education Longitudinal Survey (NELS) 88:1992 by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). Subjects for NELS 88 were recruited from both private and public schools. The study conducted a two-stage probability design to select the 8th grade sample. The sample targeted 1,500 secondary schools. By random selection, twenty-three students from each school were selected to participate. The population of interest included teen mothers who dropped out of school and teen mothers who continued. In particular, the study viewed the second follow-up wave of the NELS data. The sample consisted of 572 participants. There were 278 young mothers who were classified as dropouts and 294 young mothers who were currently enrolled in high school.

There were significant predictors of high school dropout for adolescent mothers in the areas of peer academic aspirations, school climate, future involvement, and childcare. This study found that dropouts scored significantly lower on peer academic aspirations. In addition, dropouts perceived their school climate as negative or hostile which further increased the likelihood of dropping out. Dropout students reported less family involvement and less trust between their parents. Lastly, dropouts were less likely to assume parental responsibility and had less involvement with their child.

Attributes of Resiliency Theory were examined in both groups. Dropout students have a higher likelihood of having fewer protective factors and more risk factors than current students. As supported by this study, adolescent mothers who dropped out of school had fewer positive supportive avenues. The results of this study demonstrated that dropouts are less socially competent with healthy relationship, have fewer problem-solving skills, and increased dependence on others.



Personal, Social, Academic, Young mothers, Dropouts