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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates in Massachusetts Public Schools: 2002-03

Dropout Rate Calculations and Data Collection

Dropout Rate Calculations

Annual Dropout Rate

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reports a dropout measure that was developed by the U.S. Department of Education. According to this measure, students who drop out during a particular reporting year, but return to school or graduate by October 1 of the following year, are not counted as dropouts. These students are referred to in this report as returned dropouts. The dropout rate is the number of students who drop out over a one-year period, from July 1 to June 30, minus the number of returned dropouts, divided by the October 1 enrollment.

A dropout is defined as a student in grade nine through twelve who leaves school prior to graduation for reasons other than transfer to another school and does not re-enroll before the following October 1.

The dropout rate is the number of students who drop out over a one-year period, from July 1 to June 30, minus the number of returned dropouts, divided by the October 1 enrollment.

Although Massachusetts collects data on dropouts in grades 6-12, this report focuses on grade 9-12 dropouts. Data for grades 6-8 are available from the Department.

Annual Grade 9-12 Dropout Rate =
(number of dropouts - returned dropouts) / October enrollment * 100

Example:
Statewide annual dropout rate (2002-03) =
(10,670 - 1,281) / 281,939 * 100 = 3.3%

Prior to 1993, the Department reported a dropout rate that included all students who dropped out of school regardless of whether they returned to school This calculation, known now as the unadjusted dropout rate, is included in Appendix A of this report, but is not included in the analyses of this report.

Four-Year Dropout Rate (Projected)

A four-year dropout rate has been projected for the Class of 2006. This projected rate is determined by using the following formula for calculating the cumulative effect of four years of dropping out:

Projected Four-Year Dropout Rate = [1 - (1 - W) (1 - X) (1 - Y) (1 - Z)] * 100

W = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 9
X = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 10
Y = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 11
Z = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 12

Example:
Statewide Adjusted Projected Four-Year Dropout Rate (class of 2006) =
[1 - (1 - .032) (1 - .034) (1 - .033) (1 - .035)] * 100 = 13%

The foregoing formula assumes that (1) the current annual dropout rates for grades ten, eleven and twelve will remain constant over the next three years, and (2) students who drop out will not return to school after October 1 of the following year.

Data Collection and Associated Limitations

As mentioned previously, this report marks the first time that the dropout rate is reported based on student-level data submitted by districts through the Student Information Management System (SIMS). As a result of this new collection method, data may not represent actual changes in the dropout rate, but rather may be representative of changes in data collection and in reporting requirements. This is particularly evident in the 2001-02 dropout data, which represents the first year of SIMS data to be used in dropout reporting. Not all districts submitted data during the pilot year for the SIMS collection system (2000-01), resulting in an incomplete June 2001 data collection. Without a complete enrollment count for June 2001, there was no way to accurately determine the number of students that dropped out during the summer preceding the 2001-02 school year. Referred to as summer dropouts, these students would have been included in the 2001-02 dropout data. Considering the relatively stable number of dropouts in Massachusetts public schools over the past five years (see Table 2), it is estimated that the 2001-02 dropout data is missing approximately 900 students who dropped out of school between July 1 and October 1. With the full implementation of SIMS, summer dropouts are now tracked and are included again in the 2002-03 dropout data. As stated above, while the 2001-02 dropout data is presented for the first time in the report, the majority of analyses examine dropout data over the past five years.

The dropout counts from SIMS are based on two groups of students. The first group is comprised of students reported as dropouts in the end-of-year SIMS reporting period. These students were then checked against data submitted by all other districts. If a student reported as a dropout by one district was found to be enrolled by another district, the student was not counted as a dropout.

The second group of students is termed missing students. For 2001-02, these students were reported as enrolled in grades 9-12 in the October 2001 reporting period, but were missing from the June 2002 SIMS data. For 2002-03, these students were reported as enrolled in grades 9-12 in June 2002, but were missing from the October 2002 SIMS collection (in any district). Districts had an opportunity to report the status of any missing students through a separate data collection. Students that were reported as dropouts in this Missing Students data collection and those students for whom districts provided no information were counted as dropouts.

The Department asks each district superintendent to review her/his district's reported data. Due to limited resources, Department staff does not audit the reported data. With these caveats in mind, we offer the following trend analysis.



Last Updated: April 1, 2004
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