The statistics reflecting the dropout/pushout crisis are sobering. Whereas 70% of all U.S. students who enter high school will graduate four years later, only about half of all low-income students of color will graduate. Research continues to show that the dropout crisis is concentrated in residentially and educationally segregated communities that tend to be primarily poor, Black, Latina/o, and are typically characterized by a high rate of English Learners and immigrant students. While the dropout crisis is pervasive, there are few progressive frameworks that provide more robust explanations as to why students drop out, and even fewer provide direction for actual responses. This paper proposes Paradigm to Understand and Examine Dropout and Engagement in Society (PUEDES), a complex and context-relevant framework that centers equity and social justice at its core. PUEDES is explained and applied to a real-life case-study of one student who struggled to stay in school. Implications for research, policy and practice, particularly through the ways in which the culture of educational institutions can equitably respond to the needs of Latina/o youth in the 21st Century are addressed.



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