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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates in Massachusetts Public Schools: 2002-03

Results for Selected Student Populations

Because the dropout rate varies among specific student populations, examining the rate for specific populations is important in developing and targeting dropout prevention efforts. The data collected allow for an analysis by grade level, gender, race/ethnicity, low income status, limited English proficiency, special education, and certain types of schools.

Grade

  • Students in grade twelve dropped out at a higher rate than did students in other grades. This presents a change from the previous four years, in which students in grade eleven dropped out at higher rates than did students in other grades. The 2002-03 dropout rate for twelfth-graders was 3.5 percent, followed by 3.4 percent for tenth-graders, 3.3 percent for eleventh-grades, and 3.2 percent for ninth-graders (Figure 1). The dropout rate for grade twelve rose Bar graph of Dropout Rates by Grade Level: 1999-2003 markedly from previous years (2.9 percent in 2002 and 3.1 percent in each of the three years prior), while the dropout rate for grades ten and eleven have declined slightly over the past five years.

Gender

  • Consistent with previous years, the 2002-03 dropout rate for males, 3.9 percent, was higher than for females, 2.8 percent. The difference between the two rates (1.1 percentage points) was greater than in 2002 (0.9 percentage points) and equal to that of 2001.

  • The dropout rates for both males and females have decreased slightly over the past five years. The dropout rate for males decreased from 4.0 percent in 1999, and the rate for females continued to decrease slightly from 3.1 percent in that same year.

Race/Ethnicity

  • Consistent with previous years, the dropout rates in 2002-03 varied according to race/ethnicity. As in each of the four prior years, the rate of 7.4 percent for Hispanic students was the highest among the five reported race/ethnicity categories. The annual rate was 5.7 percent for African-American students and 4.8 percent for Native American students. The rate for white students was 2.6 percent and for Asian students was 2.5 percent. Graph of Dropout Rates by Race/Ethnic Groups

  • The Hispanic dropout rate showed the largest change of the five reported race/ethnicity categories. Over the past five years, the rate decreased for Hispanic students from 9.8 percent in 1998-99 to 7.4 percent in 2002-03. The dropout rates for Asian students and African-American students also showed sharp decreases over the past five years. The rate for Asian students decreased from 3.6 percent in 1998-99 to 2.5 percent in 2002-03, and the dropout rate for African-American students decreased from 6.7 percent to 5.7 percent during that same time period. The annual rate for white students has remained relatively steady (2.5 percent in 1998-99 and 2.6 percent in 2002-03), and the dropout rate for Native American students increased from 4.0 percent in 1998-99 to 4.8 percent in 2002-03. However, the rate for Native American students is susceptible to wide fluctuation due to a low number of Native American students enrolled in Massachusetts public schools.

  • The projected four-year dropout rate for the Class of 2006 was highest for Hispanic students at 26 percent, followed by African-American students at 21 percent and Native American students at 18 percent. The rate was 10 percent for both white students and Asian students.

Low Income, Limited English Proficient, and Special Education

The 2002-03 reporting year represents the first time that dropout data can be analyzed by low income status, limited English proficiency, and special education enrollment. Rates for all three groups were higher than the overall dropout rate of 3.3 percent.

  • Students classified as low income are those students eligible for free or reduced priced lunch. The dropout rate among the 57,862 low income students enrolled in Massachusetts public high schools in 2002-03 was 5.1 percent.

  • Limited English Proficient students are defined as students who are not yet capable of performing ordinary classwork in English. The dropout rate for Limited English Proficient students was 6.1 percent in 2002-03.

  • The 2002-03 dropout rate for students in special education was 4.6 percent. It is important to note that students in special education are those with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) who are enrolled in a Massachusetts public school. Students in special education that are enrolled in private, collaborative or other out-of-district placements are not included in this report. Dropout data will be available for these students for the first time in 2003-04.

Vocational-Technical Schools

  • In 2002-03, the dropout rate for students enrolled in grades nine through twelve in the state's vocational-technical schools was 3.1 percent - a rate lower than the statewide rate for the fifth consecutive year. The annual dropout rate of 6.8 percent for city/town vocational-technical schools was significantly higher than the rate of 2.0 percent for regional, county and independent vocational-technical schools. This trend has also been evidenced in each of the past five years.

  • The annual dropout rate for all vocational-technical schools (3.1 percent) represented a decrease from 3.3 percent in 2000-01, but was a slight increase from five years prior (2.0 percent in 1998-99). The rate for regional vocational-technical schools decreased from 2.4 to 2.0 percent during the past five years, while the rate for city/town vocational-technical schools has increased from 4.9 to 6.8 percent during that same time period.

  • The projected four-year dropout rate for all vocational-technical schools was 12 percent. The projected four-year rate was 25 percent for city/town vocational-technical schools and 8 percent for regional, county, and independent vocational-technical schools.

Charter Schools

  • During the 2002-03 school year, a total of 2,809 students in grades nine through twelve attended charter schools. Of these, 120 students dropped out, resulting in a dropout rate of 4.3 percent. Of the twenty-three charter schools with enrollment for grades nine through twelve, sixteen had no dropouts, three had a dropout rate less than five percent, one school was between 5 and 10 percent, and three charter schools had a dropout rate of 10 percent or higher.



Last Updated: April 1, 2004
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