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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates 1995 - 1996

Analysis of Dropout Rates

The 1996 annual dropout rate for Massachusetts public schools was 3.4 percent. A total of 8,177 ninth- to twelfth-graders dropped out of Massachusetts public schools during the 1995-96 annual reporting year and did not return to school by October 1, 1996. These students represented 3.4 percent of the 240,347 ninth- to twelfth-graders who were enrolled in the state's public schools in the Fall of 1995 (Table 1).

Table 1. Dropout Rates: 1996
 EnrollmentNumber of DropoutsAnnual RateProjected Four-Year Rate *Returns as % of Dropouts **
Total, Grade 9-12240,3478,1773.4%--20.3%
Grade
Grade 968,5271,8972.8%13%20.9%
Grade 1062,8122,3093.7%--19.9%
Grade 1157,0022,2513.9%--20.1%
Grade 1252,0061,7203.3%--20.4%
Gender
Male121,7484,7433.9%15%21.0%
Female118,5993,4342.9%11%19.4%
Race/Ethnic Group
African American19,7331,1645.9%22%15.2%
Asian9,0782082.3%9%20.6%
Hispanic20,1361,5877.9%28%25.0%
Native American515234.5%17%11.5%
White190,8855,1952.7%11%19.9%
Vocational-Technical Schools***30,4881,0433.4%13%19.6%
City/Town5,3293055.7%21%31.3%
Regional/County/Independent25,1597382.9%11%13.5%
* percentage of ninth graders (Class of 1999) projected to drop out over four-year period
** percentage of 1995-96 school year dropouts who returned to school by October 1, 1996
*** figures do not include vocational-technical students enrolled in comprehensive high schools

In addition to these students, another 2,084 students dropped out of school during the 1995-96 reporting year but returned to school by October 1, 1996. These students, referred to in this report as returned dropouts, represented 20.3 percent of the total number of students who dropped out during the 1995-96 school year.

Based on the annual dropout rate, it is projected that 13 percent of the students who entered ninth grade in the 1995-96 reporting year may not graduate. This statistic, known as the projected four-year dropout rate, represents an estimation of the cumulative effect of four years of dropping out for the Class of 1999.

The 1996 annual dropout rate of 3.4 percent continued a decline from a rate of 3.6 percent in 1995 and 3.7 percent in 1994 (Table 2 and Figure 1). The projected four-year dropout rate of 13 percent for the class of 1999 decreased slightly from the prior year's rate of 14 percent for the Class of 1998 after showing no change from the rate for the Class of 1997 (Table 3 and Figure 2).

The 1996 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 annual dropout rate ranged from a low of zero percent to a high of 39.0 percent.. Ten schools reported no dropouts in 1996, a decrease from 18 schools with no dropouts in 1995 (Table 4 and Figure 3). Another 62 schools reported dropouts rates of one percent or less in 1996. At the other end, 12 schools reported dropout rates in excess of 10 percent, down from 14 in 1995. These 12 schools, all urban and half of them in Boston, comprised 3.1 percent of the state's grade nine through twelve enrollment but accounted for 13.4 percent of the state's dropouts.

Table 2. Annual Dropout Rates: 1993-1996
  1993199419951996
Total Dropout Rate, Grade 9-123.5%3.7%3.6%3.4%
Total Number of Dropouts7,9758,5128,3968,177
Grade 9-12 Enrollment229,142232,046234,608240,347
Grade
Grade 93.2%2.9%3.1%2.8%
Grade 103.8%4.2%3.7%3.7%
Grade 114.0%4.4%4.5%3.9%
Grade 123.0%3.3%3.1%3.3%
Gender
Male3.9%4.2%4.1%3.9%
Female3.1%3.2%3.0%2.9%
Race/Ethnic Group
African American6.9%6.4%7.3%5.9%
Asian2.7%3.3%3.0%2.3%
Hispanic9.6%9.1%9.3%7.9%
Native American7.9%9.3%5.2%4.5%
White2.6%2.8%2.6%2.7%

Table 3. Projected Four-Year Dropout Rates: Classes of 1996-1999
 1996199719981999
Total 13% 14% 14% 13%
Gender
Male14%16%16%15%
Female12%12%12%11%
Race/Ethnic Group
African American25%23%26%22%
Asian10%13%12%9%
Hispanic32%31%32%28%
Native American30%33%19%17%
White10%11%10%11%

Table 4. Distribution of Annual Dropout Rates: 1995-1996
  Number of Schools*
Annual Rate (%)19951996
01810
0.1 - 1.05162
1.1 - 2.510295
2.6 - 5.07583
5.1 - 7.53328
7.6 - 10.0712
10.1 and above1412
* excludes schools with enrollments 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 1996 annual dropout rate for tenth-graders was 3.7 percent and the rate for eleventh-graders was 3.9 percent. The dropout rate for ninth-graders was 2.8 percent and for twelfth-graders was 3.3 percent. This pattern of dropout rates by grade has remained consistent over time.

  • The dropout rate decreased for grades nine and eleven between 1995 and 1996, remained the same for grade ten, and increased for grade twelve. The rate decreased from 3.1 percent to 2.8 percent for grade nine and from 4.5 to 3.9 percent for grade eleven. It stayed at 3.7 percent for grade ten, while the rate increased from 3.1 to 3.3 percent for grade twelve.

Gender

  • The 1996 annual dropout rate was a full percentage point higher for males than for females. The annual rate was 3.9 percent for males and 2.9 percent for females. The projected four-year rate was 15 percent for males and 11 percent for females. This pattern has also persisted over time.

  • The annual dropout rate for both males and females decreased between 1995 and 1996. The rate decreased from 4.1 to 3.9 percent for males and from 3.0 to 2.9 percent for females.

Race/Ethnicity

  • The wide disparity in dropout rates for the various racial/ethnic groups that has persisted in the past continues to exist. Hispanic students had the highest annual dropout rate at 7.9 percent. The annual rate was 5.9 percent for African-American students and 4.5 percent for Native American students. The rate for white students was 2.7 percent, while the rate for Asian students was lowest at 2.3 percent. This is the first year since the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been collecting dropout data that white students have not had the lowest dropout rate.

  • The projected four-year dropout rate for the Class of 1999 showed similar disparity by race/ethnicity. The rate was highest for Hispanic students at 28 percent, followed by African-American students at 22 percent, and Native American students at 17 percent. The rate for white students was 11 percent and the rate for Asian students was 9 percent.

  • While the annual dropout rate increased for white students between 1995 and 1996 from 2.6 to 2.7 percent, it decreased rather substantially for all other racial/ethnic groups. The annual dropout rate decreased by 1.4 percentage points for both Hispanic and African American students, from 9.3 to 7.9 percent for Hispanic students and from 7.3 to 5.9 percent for African American students. The rate for Asian students decreased from 3.0 to 2.3 percent, and for Native American students it went from 5.2 to 4.5 percent (the rate for Native American students is susceptible to wide fluctuation due to low enrollment).

Vocational-Technical Schools

  • A total of 1,043 ninth- to twelfth-grade students enrolled in the state's 42 vocational-technical schools, out of an enrollment of 30,488, dropped out of school during the 1995-96 reporting year.. This represents an annual dropout rate of 3.4 percent, equal to the statewide rate. The projected four-year dropout rate for all vocational-technical schools was 13 percent.

  • In 1996, 82.5 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 annual dropout rate of 5.7 percent for city/town vocational-technical schools was nearly two times higher than the rate of 2.9 percent for regional, independent and county vocational-technical schools. The projected four-year rate was 21 percent for city/town vocational-technical schools and 11 percent for regional, independent and county vocational-technical schools.

  • The annual dropout rate for all vocational-technical schools decreased from 4.0 to 3.4 percent between 1995 and 1996. The rate for city/town vocational-technical schools decreased substantially from 11.1 to 5.7 percent, while the rate for regional vocational-technical schools increased from 2.5 to 2.9 percent.

Returned Dropouts

As mentioned above, 20.3 percent of the total number of students who dropped out during the 1995-96 reporting year returned to school by October 1, 1996. These students are referred to as returned dropouts.

The percentage of dropouts who returned to school varied widely by school (Figure 4). Of the 311 schools having any of the grades nine through twelve which had dropouts during the 1995-96 reporting year, 122 schools (39.2%) had up to 20 percent of their dropouts return to school by October 1, 1996. Another 88 schools (28.3%) had between 20 and 40 percent returned dropouts. Sixteen schools had between 40 and 60 percent of their dropouts return, and six schools had between 60 and 80 percent returned dropouts. Two schools had between 80 and 100 percent of their dropouts return, and eight schools had all of their dropouts return. Sixty-nine schools (22.2%) had none of their dropouts return to school.

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 There was slight variation in the likelihood to return to school among students of different grades. Students in grade nine (20.9 percent) were most likely to return to school, followed by grade twelve (20.4 percent), grade eleven (20.1 percent) and grade ten (19.9 percent).

  • Gender Male dropouts were slightly more likely to return to school than female dropouts. Of all males who dropped out, 21.0 percent returned to school, while 19.4 percent of females who dropped out returned to school.

  • 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, 25.0 percent returned to school. Asian students (20.6 percent) were the second most likely to re-enroll, followed by white students (19.9 percent) and African-American students (15.2 percent). Native-American students (11.5 percent) were the least likely to re-enroll.

  • Vocational Students Students at vocational-technical schools were slightly less likely to return to school than students statewide. Of those vocational students who dropped out, 19.6 percent returned to school. Students at city or town vocational schools (31.3 percent) were nearly two and a half times as likely to return to school than those at regional, county or independent vocational schools (13.5 percent).

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Last Updated: March 21, 1997
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