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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates 1993 - 1994

September 1, 1995

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to issue our annual publication, Dropout Rates in Massachusetts Public Schools: 1994.

This report provides information about students who dropped out of school during the 1993-94 reporting year. It represents an attempt to assess the holding power of Massachusetts public schools to determine how well our schools are doing in graduating their students. I hope that this report will contribute to efforts to develop and strengthen dropout prevention programs. I also am confident that Education Reform, with its new standards for teaching and learning, will help create an increasingly challenging environment to engage students throughout their education and keep them in school.

This is the second year in which the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is reporting two different measures of dropout rates: unadjusted and adjusted. The unadjusted dropout rate is the measure that we have reported since 1987. The adjusted rate is a measure that was recently developed by the U.S. Department of Education. It partially accounts for students who drop out and return to school by not counting as dropouts those students who return to school by the following October 1.

Summary of Key Findings

  • Annual Dropout Rate. A total of 10,626 students enrolled in grades nine through twelve dropped out of school in the one-year period between July 1, 1993, and June 30, 1994. This represents an unadjusted annual dropout rate of 4.6 percent. Of those students, 2,114 (19.9%) returned to school by October 1, 1994. This represents an adjusted annual dropout rate of 3.7 percent.

  • Rate Over Time. The adjusted annual dropout rate increased from 3.5 percent in 1993 to 3.7 percent in 1994. The unadjusted annual dropout rate continued an increase begun in 1993 following a five-year period of decline and stability. The unadjusted annual dropout rate had decreased between 1988 and 1991 from 5.4 percent to 4.0 percent, remained stable for a year, and then increased to 4.3 percent in 1993 and 4.6 percent in 1994.

  • Distribution of Rates for Individual Schools. The adjusted annual dropout rate ranged from zero percent to 24.5 percent. At the low end, 153 schools had dropout rates of 2.5 percent or less. At the high end, 12 schools had dropout rates in excess of 10 percent. These 12 schools comprised 5.7 percent of the state's grade nine through twelve enrollment but accounted for 20.0 percent of the state's dropouts.

  • Grade. Students in grades ten and eleven dropped out at higher rates than did students in grades nine and twelve, a pattern that has persisted over time. The 1994 adjusted annual dropout rate for tenth-graders was 4.2 percent and the rate for eleventh-graders was 4.4 percent. The adjusted dropout rate for ninth-graders was 2.9 percent and the rate for twelfth-graders was 3.3 percent. The adjusted dropout rate increased for all grades with the exception of grade nine between 1993 and 1994.

  • Gender. The 1994 adjusted annual dropout rate was 4.2 percent for males, up from 3.9 percent in 1993, and 3.2 percent for females, up from 3.1 percent in 1993.

  • Race/Ethnicity. Dropout rates varied widely by race/ethnicity. Between 1993 and 1994, the adjusted annual dropout rate decreased for Hispanic students, from 9.6 to 9.1 percent, and for African-American students, from 6.9 to 6.4 percent. The rate increased for white students, from 2.6 to 2.8 percent, for Asian students, from 2.7 to 3.3 percent, and for Native American students, from 7.9 to 9.3 percent.

  • Vocational-Technical Schools. The adjusted annual dropout rate for students enrolled in vocational-technical schools was 3.2 percent, down from 3.4 percent in 1993. The adjusted rate for city/town vocational-technical schools was 4.8 percent, a substantial decline from the rate of 7.3 percent the prior year, and the rate for regional, independent and county vocational-technical schools was 2.8 percent, up slightly from 2.6 percent the previous year.

  • Students with Special Needs. The unadjusted annual dropout rate for students with special needs was 8.3 percent, up from 6.7 percent the previous year. Data for the adjusted rate were not available.

I would like to acknowledge the Accountability and Evaluation Service Cluster for developing this report. If you have any questions or suggestions about the report, please contact:

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Accountability and Evaluation Services
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148
(781) 338-3000


Robert V. Antonucci
Commissioner of Education

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Last Updated: September 1, 1995
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