I probably have a unique perspective on this topic being a community college teacher as well as a 7th grade teacher. Research shows that middle school performance is a good indicator as to who will say in school to graduate. As a middle school teacher with a few years experience, I can safely say I believe that. If asked, I think most middle school teachers could predict the students who will drop out of high school. But that’s not really our job, is it? We need to do the best to educate those students while we have them, teach our curriculum, and not worry about predictions. Right?
Let me throw out one of my pet theories – Students do not mature intellectually at the same rate any more than they grow physically at the same rate. Walking down a middle school hallway, the physical analogy is very clear: Some students look to be about 8 years old and some appear as old as 25. Since they clearly don’t physically mature at the same rate, why do we assume they intellectually mature at the same rate? I don’t think they do. I think the “intellectually immature” students are those who severely struggle with everything and feel unsuccessful. These are the students at high risk of dropping out of high school but later “going back” to get their GED. They found themselves at a stage in life where they were intellectually mature enough to be in high school equivalency classes and get their GEDs on their own. No school enforced timeline.
As an instructor at a community college, I have a wide range of students. Recent grads, GEDs, returning to school adults, and retirees. The GEDs have approximately the same rate of success as the recent grads, maybe a little better. Why? Not all high school grads seem intellectually mature enough for college material. GEDs often seem hungry to prove themselves worthy.