Adolescents have left schools for as long as there have been schools, but the term dropout emerged in popular culture on the cusp of the tumultuous 1960s in the United States. With the use of the term came multiple political, social, cultural, and economic interpretations, each situating the label and domain of dropout in particular ways. Evidence from the last century about school leavers indicates that the issue of leaving school is multilayered and systemic. This entry is a historical sketch of school leaving, or dropping out, and the contexts in which schools produced students who left school.

Early History

The first public high school opened in Boston in 1820, and other high schools were opened in cities soon thereafter and competed with private academies. However, high ...

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