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*
| || ||1990||1991||1992||1993||1994|
|Total Dropout Rate, Grade 9-12|| ||4.6%||4.0%||4.0%||4.3%||4.6%|
|Total Number of Dropouts|| ||10,802||9,269||9,282||9,766||10,626|
|Grade 9-12 Enrollment|| ||235,350||230,069||230,170||229,142||232,046|
|Grade|| || || || || || |
| ||Grade 9||4.0%||3.5%||3.7%||3.7%||3.7|
| ||Grade 10||5.3%||4.7%||4.7%||4.6%||5.3|
| ||Grade 11||5.5%||4.5%||4.6%||5.0%||5.3|
| ||Grade 12||3.5%||3.3%||3.1%||3.8%||4.1|
|Gender|| || || || || || |
|Race/Ethnic Group|| || || || || || |
|* rates are unadjusted for dropouts who returned to school by Oct. 1 of the
following school year|
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
Table 3. Unadjusted Projected Four-Year Dropout Rates: Classes of
| || ||1993||1994||1995||1996||1997|
|Gender|| || || || || || |
|Race/Ethnic Group|| || || || || || |
| * 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 (%)||1993||1994|
|0.1 - 1.0||77||55|
|1.1 - 2.5||91||87|
|2.6 - 5.0||69||96|
|5.1 - 7.5||18||26|
|7.6 - 10.0||13||11|
|10.1 - 15.0||10||11|
|15.1 and above||4||1|
|* 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. 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.
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
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
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.
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).
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. This represents an adjusted
annual dropout rate of 3.2 percent, somewhat lower than the statewide rate of
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. 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.
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.
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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