Newswise — Concentrating on the tween years is important, said Dr. Joyce Stallworth, senior associate dean in The University of Alabama's College of Education.

"A student's decision to drop out of high school is often the end result of a long series of negative school experiences that begin long before they get to high school," said Stallworth. "Interventions in middle school can turn students around and reduce dropout numbers in high school."

Stallworth said the warning signs for students at-risk to dropout are: poor school attendance, poor academic achievement, and poor behavior.

"These students become disengaged during the tween years. They are frustrated, so they see no need to continue to come to school," she said.

So what are educators and parents to do?

"You need to have all students engaged in the school process, so that they will want to come to school. When they are engaged and experience school success, they will stay productive and become productive members of society."

She said teachers and parents should not overlook the motivation that extracurricular activities can provide in engaging student.

"So often when students are involved in those kinds of activities, they're more apt to do better in their classes and want to come to school."