Date Presented

Spring 4-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Dan Messerschmidt

Second Advisor

Professor Mike Schnur

Third Advisor

Dr. Sally Seiden


When citizens look to the government, there are multiple services that are expected to be provided. One of the most fundamental services is the access to an education to better prepare the nation’s children for the future. Education is not just a service that is expected, it is a necessity in the global world that the United States is competing in. Currently the United State of America is facing large numbers of high school students who are dropping out. This is a major concern for the future productivity and welfare of the nation. What is the problem that has caused the questioning of the United States educational system? Education is a major expense to society. Yet, while education is expensive, it is the fundamental building block upon which our society has been built. Consequently, questions about what is going wrong with the educational system are raised, since it appears that the number of students who drop out increases every year. This study looks at a range of possible factors that are believed to have an influence on graduation rates across the one hundred and thirty school divisions in Virginia. Eleven variables were tested based on their theoretical explanation of graduation rates. In following sections past studies, the models used, the results, and policy implications will be examined. Multiple regressions were performed, and after conducting this analysis, five variables were found to have explanatory power in terms of the differences in graduation rates. Thirty five point two percent of the deviation in the graduation rate was explained using those variables. The variables that were found to explain the deviation were: the educational attainment of the community, expenditures per pupil, per capita income, percentage of the school population that is white, and the population density of the school divisions.