Thursday, August 2, 3:30-4:00, SUB Ballroom D, Theme: Students

Student retention is a major factor impacting student success both during and after the course of their academic career, with any widespread short-term gains offset by long-term adverse effects experienced by vulnerable student populations (Huddleston, 2014). This study examines differences in retention rates and policies across public school districts within Georgia. The districts will be grouped by locale type (rural, town, suburb, city) and stratified into three subgroups based on per-student spending; three districts will be randomly selected from each stratum, for a total of 24 districts. An analysis of covariance is used to analyze the dependent variable of retention rates with the percentage of directly certified students in the district used as the controlling variable. Directly certified students are those who live in a family receiving SNAP and/or TANF benefits, and/or those who have been identified as transient, homeless, foster, or migrant students, and is increasingly being used as a proxy measure of socioeconomic status ( Preliminary analyses indicate that while some rural districts may comparatively experience low retention rates, rural districts experience the greatest within-group variability for retention rates. The two districts with highest and lowest retention rates in each of four locale types are identified for the 2016-2017 school year, and their policies compared to the Georgia statewide policy and each other to determine similarities or differences. The qualitative data collected will aid in determining whether any patterns of retention uncovered in the quantitative data are due to differences in district policies or implemented practices.