Fifth Year Persisters: High School, College, and Early Career Outcomes for Persisting Non-Graduates.
There is limited extant knowledge regarding academic and workforce experiences of students who remain engaged in high school, but do not graduate in the traditional four years. The current study used Multilevel modeling and descriptive statistics with statewide linked longitudinal administrative data (N = 2917) to (1) examine the student- and school-level factors related to earning a diploma during the fifth year of high school and (2) describe proximate academic and career outcomes for non-graduates and fifth year graduates. Multiple student-level factors were associated with increased likelihood of earning a diploma in the fifth year (e.g. special education eligibility, passing exit exams, higher attendance). Returning dropouts were less likely than persisters to earn a diploma in year five. In addition, the type and composition of the school a student attended affected the likelihood that a student would earn a diploma in year five. We also report population-level rates of participation in the workforce and postsecondary enrollment for fifth-year graduates and non-graduates. Fifth-year graduates outperformed non-graduates in both categories. Our findings provide insight into near term outcomes for students in a fifth-year of high school and suggest key factors that can be used for early identification and targeting services towards this under-researched and under-served population.