It is often assumed that schools themselves play an important role in students not completing school. However, the literature is inconsistent on what school characteristics influence school leaving, and identified school effects may be spurious due to the absence, or poor measurement, of appropriate individual-level influences. The importance of schools on school leaving is examined in the Australian context using longitudinal data based on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)'s 2003 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study, which includes more comprehensive measures of socioeconomic background and student achievement than available previously. The strongest influence on school leaving was student performance in the PISA tests. Although there were sizable differences between schools in the proportion of school leavers, only a small proportion of schools showed significantly higher or lower levels of school leaving when individual-level influences were taken into account. The implications for policies on school leaving are discussed.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/gary_marks/36/