A critical review of the literature on school dropout

Kristof De Witte*, Sofie Cabus, Geert Thyssen, Wim Groot, Henriette Maassen van den Brink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

126 Citations (Web of Science)


This paper reviews the growing literature on early school leaving. We clarify what is at stake with early school leaving, and touch upon underlying problems and methodological issues raised in the literature. The paper investigates the levels, the methods and models with which the topic has been studied, and discusses potential (dis)advantages of each of those. We focus on early school leaving in all its complexity, and on the interplay of relevant (levels of) factors, rather than on just certain factors, typically located in individual students, schools or families. The findings in the literature are discussed and placed into perspective. Finally, a wide set of policy measures are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-28
JournalEducational Research Review
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • School dropout
  • Literature review
  • Determinants
  • Policy measures

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