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Who Drops out of and Who Continues beyond High School? A 20 Year Follow-up of Black Youth


Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne; Guo, Guang; & Furstenberg, Frank F., Jr. (1993). Who Drops out of and Who Continues beyond High School? A 20 Year Follow-up of Black Youth. Journal of Adolescent Research, 3, 271-294.


The antecedents of dropping out of high school and continuing beyond high school are explored in a 20-year follow-up of the first-born children of about 250 Black teenage mothers who gave birth in the late 1960s in Baltimore. In 1988, the first-born children of the teenage mothers were making the transition to young adulthood (M age = 19 years). Thirty-seven percent had dropped out of school, 46% had completed high school, and 17% had gone on for postsecondary school education. Predictors of completing high school versus not completing high school were estimated as well as antecedents of continuing beyond high school versus completing high school. Events and characteristics occurring during the mothers' pregnancy in the first year of life, young childhood, middle childhood, and young adolescence were examined. Family circumstances (welfare use, presence of father or grandmother), maternal commitment to education, child's elementary grade school failure, child's preschool cognitive ability, and young adolescent behaviors such as pregnancy were potential antecedents. Number of years the father was present, high maternal educational aspirations in the child's first year of life, being prepared for school, and not repeating a grade during elementary school were predictive of completing high school. Few years on welfare, high preschool cognitive ability, attendance in preschool, and no grade failure in elementary school were predictive of continuing beyond high school. Policy implications of these findings are considered.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Adolescent Research


Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne
Guo, Guang
Furstenberg, Frank F., Jr.