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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates 1993 - 1994

Analysis of Dropout Rates

The 1994 unadjusted annual dropout rate for Massachusetts public schools was 4.6 percent. That is, 10,626 ninth- to twelfth-graders dropped out of Massachusetts public schools during the 1993-94 annual reporting year. These students represented 4.6 percent of the 232,046 ninth- to twelfth-graders who were enrolled in the state's public schools in the Fall of 1993 (Table 1).

Of the 10,626 students who dropped out during the 1993-94 reporting year, 2,114 returned to school by October 1, 1994. These students represented 19.9 percent of those who dropped out. Accounting for students who re-enrolled in school by the following Fall, the adjusted annual dropout rate for the 1993-94 reporting year was 3.7 percent.

Based on the unadjusted annual dropout rate, it is projected that 17 percent of the students who entered ninth grade in the 1993-94 reporting year may not graduate. This statistic, known as the unadjusted projected four-year dropout rate, represents an estimation of the cumulative effect of four years of dropping out for the Class of 1997. Accounting for dropouts who returned to school by the following October 1, the adjusted projected four-year dropout rate was 14 percent.


Table 2. Unadjusted Annual Dropout Rates: 1990-1994*
  19901991199219931994
Total Dropout Rate, Grade 9-12 4.6%4.0%4.0%4.3%4.6%
Total Number of Dropouts 10,8029,2699,2829,76610,626
Grade 9-12 Enrollment 235,350230,069230,170229,142232,046
Grade      
 Grade 94.0%3.5%3.7%3.7%3.7
 Grade 105.3%4.7%4.7%4.6%5.3
 Grade 115.5%4.5%4.6%5.0%5.3
 Grade 123.5%3.3%3.1%3.8%4.1
Gender      
 Male5.2%4.4%4.5%4.8%5.3
 Female4.0%3.5%3.5%3.7%3.9
Race/Ethnic Group      
 African
American
9.0%8.1%7.4%8.0%7.7
 Asian5.1%3.9%4.2%3.2%3.9
 Hispanic12.6%11.1%11.1%11.3%12.0
 Native
American
8.0%7.2%4.8%9.9%9.7
 White3.6%3.0%3.1%3.2%3.5
* rates are unadjusted for dropouts who returned to school by Oct. 1 of the following school year


Graph of Annual Dropout Rates: 1990-94

Graph of Projected 4-Year Dropout Rates: 1993-97

Both the unadjusted annual and projected four-year dropout rates 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 (Table 2 and Figure 1). Similarly, the unadjusted projected four-year dropout rate had decreased over the same period from 20 percent for the Class of 1991 to 15 percent for the Class of 1994, remained the same for a year, and then rose to 16 percent in for the Class of 1996 and 17 percent for the Class of 1997 (Table 3 and Figure 2). Consistent with this increase, the adjusted annual dropout rate increased from 3.5 percent in 1993 to 3.7 percent in 1994, and the adjusted projected four-year dropout rate increased from 13 percent to 14 percent. The continued increase in the dropout rate may indicate a need to sustain and strengthen dropout prevention efforts.


Table 3. Unadjusted Projected Four-Year Dropout Rates: Classes of 1993-1997*
  19931994199519961997
Total17%15%15%16%17
Gender      
 Male19%16%17%18%20
 Female15%13%13%14%15
Race/Ethnic Group      
 African
American
31%28%26%28%27
 Asian19%15%16%12%15
 Hispanic41%37%36%37%39
 Native
American
28%28%18%36%34
 White14%12%12%12%14
* rates are unadjusted for dropouts who returned to school by Oct. 1 of the following school year


Table 4. Distribution of Adjusted Annual Dropout Rates: 1993-1994
 Number of Schools*
Annual Rate (%)19931994
01611
0.1 - 1.07755
1.1 - 2.59187
2.6 - 5.06996
5.1 - 7.51826
7.6 - 10.01311
10.1 - 15.01011
15.1 and above41
* excludes schools with enrollments less than 75


The 1994 statewide dropout rate masks the wide disparity in the rate that existed among individual schools and the severe dropout problem that persists in some schools. The distribution of the adjusted annual dropout rate ranged from a low of zero percent to a high of 24.5 percent.[2] Fewer schools had low dropout rates in 1994 than in 1993, fewer schools had high dropout rates in 1994 than in 1993, while the number of schools with dropout rates in the middle increased between 1993 and 1994. At the low end, 153 schools had dropout rates of 2.5 percent or less, down from 184 the previous year. At the high end, 23 schools had dropout rates greater than 7.5 percent, down from 27 the prior year, and 12 schools had dropout rates in excess of 10 percent, also down from 14 the prior year (Table 4 and Figure 3). 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.

Graph of Distribution of Annual Dropout Rates: 1993-94

Dropout rate figures on x-axis are the maximum of a range; eg., 1 equals 0.1 - 1.0, 2.5 equals 1.1 - 2.5, etc. Excludes schools with enrollment less than 75.

Results for Selected Student Populations

In any given year dropout rates vary widely among specific student populations (Tables 1 and 2). Because the dropout rate for certain groups of students is especially high, examining the dropout rate for specific populations is necessary in order to appropriately develop and target dropout prevention efforts. The dropout rate for selected populations of students is examined below.

Grade

  • Students in grades ten and eleven dropped out at higher rates than did students in grades nine and twelve. 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. This pattern of dropout rates by grade has remained consistent over time.

  • The adjusted dropout rate increased for all grades with the exception of grade nine between 1993 and 1994. The adjusted rate declined from 3.2 to 2.9 percent for grade nine, and it rose from 3.8 to 4.2 percent for grade ten, from 4.0 to 4.4 percent for grade eleven, and from 3.0 to 3.3 percent for grade twelve.

Gender

  • The 1994 adjusted annual dropout rate was higher for males than for females. The adjusted annual rate was 4.2 percent for males and 3.2 percent for females. The adjusted projected four-year rate was 16 percent for males and 12 percent for females. This pattern has also persisted over time.

  • The adjusted annual dropout rate for both males and females increased between 1993 and 1994. The rate increased from 3.9 to 4.2 percent for males and from 3.1 to 3.2 percent for females.

Race/Ethnicity

  • The wide disparity in dropout rates for the various racial/ethnic groups that has persisted in the past shows no sign of diminishing. Native-American students, who make up less than one percent of the total enrollment, had the highest adjusted annual dropout rate at 9.3 percent, over three times as high as the rate for white students at 2.8 percent. The adjusted annual rate for Hispanic students was 9.1 percent, also more than three times as high as the rate for white students. The adjusted annual rate for African-American students was 6.4 percent, over two times higher than the rate for white students. The rate for Asian students was 3.3 percent.

  • The adjusted projected four-year dropout rate for the Class of 1997 showed similar disparity by race/ethnicity. The rate was highest for Native American students at 33 percent, followed by Hispanic students at 31 percent, and African-American students at 23 percent. The rate for white students was 11 percent and the rate for Asian students was 13 percent.

  • The adjusted annual dropout rate decreased for African-American and Hispanic students and increased for white, Asian and Native American students between 1993 and 1994. The rate decreased from 6.9 to 6.4 percent for African-American students and from 9.6 to 9.1 percent for Hispanic students. The adjusted annual dropout rate increased from 2.6 to 2.8 percent for white students, from 2.7 to 3.3 percent for Asian students, and from 7.9 to 9.3 percent for Native American students (the rate for Native American students is susceptible to wide fluctuation due to low enrollment).

Vocational-Technical Schools

  • A total of 936 ninth- to twelfth-grade students enrolled in the state's 42 vocational-technical schools, out of an enrollment of 29,575, dropped out of school during the 1993-94 reporting year and did not return by the following October 1.[3] This represents an adjusted annual dropout rate of 3.2 percent, somewhat lower than the statewide rate of 3.7 percent.

  • In 1994, 82.0 percent of vocational students attended the 32 regional, independent or county vocational-technical schools in the state. The remainder attended the 10 vocational-technical schools that were part of city and town school systems. The adjusted annual dropout rate of 4.8 percent for city/town vocational-technical schools was two percentage points higher than the rate of 2.8 percent for regional, independent and county vocational-technical schools. The adjusted projected four-year rate was 18 percent for city/town vocational-technical schools and 11 percent for regional, independent and county vocational-technical schools.

  • The adjusted annual dropout rate for all vocational-technical schools decreased from 3.4 to 3.2 percent between 1993 and 1994. The adjusted rate for city/town vocational-technical schools declined substantially from 7.3 to 4.8 percent, while the rate for regional vocational-technical schools increased from 2.6 to 2.8 percent.

Students with Special Needs

  • A total of 2,057 students with special needs age 16 and older, out of an enrollment of 24,784, dropped out of school during the 1993-94 reporting year; this figure does not reflect dropouts who returned to school as this data was unavailable.[4] This represents an unadjusted annual dropout rate of 8.3 percent, nearly twice as high as the statewide unadjusted rate of 4.6 percent for all students. The rate for students with special needs increased from 6.7 percent the previous year.

Returned Dropouts

As mentioned above, 19.9 percent of students who dropped out during the 1993-94 reporting year returned to school by October 1, 1994. These students are known as returned dropouts. Accounting for these students results in a decrease in the annual dropout rate from 4.6 to 3.7 percent.

The percentage of dropouts who returned to school varied widely by school (Figure 4). Of the 308 schools having any of the grades nine through twelve which had dropouts during the 1993-94 reporting year, over two-thirds (70.1%) had up to 20 percent of their dropouts return to school by October 1, 1994. Nearly one-quarter (22.1%) had between 20 and 40 percent returned dropouts. Sixteen schools had between 40 and 60 percent of their dropouts return, four schools had between 60 and 80 percent returned dropouts, and another four had between 80 and 100 percent of their dropouts return.

Graph of Distribution of Returned Dropouts: 1993-94

Figures on the x-axis are the maximum of a range; eg. 20 equals 0.1% - 20%, 40 equals 20.1% - 40%, etc. Excludes schools with no dropouts.

The distribution of returned dropouts also varied among specific populations of students (Table 1). The following figures reveal that certain students are more likely to return to school than others:

  • Grade. Students in grade nine were more likely to return to school than were students in other grades. Of the ninth-graders who dropped out of school, 23.0 percent returned to school. Students in grade ten had the second highest return rate, as 20.1 percent of tenth-graders who dropped out returned to school. Of the eleventh-graders who dropped out of school, 17.6 percent returned to school, and 19.3 percent of twelfth graders who dropped out returned to school. This pattern differs from that of 1993, when students who had invested more time in school were more likely to return as the return rate increased from grade to grade (15.3% for grade nine, 17.7% for grade ten, 19.1% for grade eleven, and 21.8% for grade twelve).

  • Gender. Male dropouts were more likely to return to school than female dropouts. Of all males who dropped out, 21.0 percent returned to school, while 18.4 percent of females who dropped out returned to school. Both male and female students were more likely to return to school in 1994 than in 1993, when these figures were 19.6 and 16.6 percent, respectively.

  • Race/Ethnicity. Hispanic students who dropped out were more likely to return to school than students of other racial/ethnic backgrounds. Of those Hispanic students who dropped out, 23.6 percent returned to school. White students, of whom 19.7 percent returned to school, were the second most likely to re-enroll, followed by African-American students, of whom 16.8 percent returned to school, and Asian students, of whom 15.1 percent returned to school. Native-American students, of whom 4.8 percent returned to school, were the least likely to re-enroll. The return rate for both Hispanic and African-American students increased substantially from 1993, when the figures were 15.6 and 13.9 percent, respectively. The return rate for white and Asian students declined from that of the previous year, when the figures were 20.4 and 17.3 percent, respectively.

  • Vocational Students. Students at vocational-technical schools were more likely to return to school than students statewide. Of those vocational students who dropped out, 32.4 percent returned to school. Over half (57.8%) of students who dropped out of a city-town vocational-technical school returned to school, while one-eighth (12.8%) of students who dropped out of a regional, independent or county vocational-technical school returned.

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Last Updated: September 1, 1995
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