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Dropout Rates 1995 - 1996

Letter from the Commissioner

March 21, 1997

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to issue our annual publication, Dropout Rates in Massachusetts Public Schools: 1996. This report represents an attempt to assess the holding power of Massachusetts public schools to determine how well our schools are doing in graduating their students. The dropout rate is an important indicator of performance that will be considered as we develop a system of evaluating schools and districts in accordance with the Education Reform Act.

I hope that this report will contribute to local efforts to strengthen dropout prevention programs. I am confident that as we all continue to implement Education Reform, with its high standards for teaching and learning, students will find school to be increasingly engaging, meaningful and challenging. Completing school is the best basis for a future productive life of work and citizenship.

Summary of Key Findings

  • Annual Dropout Rate The 1996 annual dropout rate was 3.4 percent. This represents a total of 8,177 students enrolled in grades nine through twelve (out of 240,347 statewide) who dropped out of Massachusetts public schools in the 1995-96 school year and did not return to school by October 1, 1996

  • Rate Over Time The annual Massachusetts dropout rate has declined from 3.7 percent in 1994 to 3.6 percent in 1995 to 3.4 percent in 1996.

  • Distribution of Rates for Individual Schools The annual dropout rate varied widely among individual schools, ranging from zero percent to 39.0 percent. At the low end, out of 311 schools, 10 schools had no students who dropped out, and 167 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 3.1 percent of the state's grade nine through twelve enrollment but accounted for 13.4 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. 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.

  • Gender The 1996 annual dropout rate was 3.9 percent for males and 2.9 percent for females.

  • Race/Ethnicity Dropout rates varied widely by race/ethnicity. Asian students had the lowest dropout rate at 2.3 percent, and white students had a rate of 2.7 percent. Hispanic students had the highest annual dropout rate at 7.9 percent. The dropout rate was 5.9 percent for African-American students and 4.5 percent for Native American students. The annual dropout rate declined fairly substantially between 1995 and 1996 for all racial/ethnic groups with the exception of white students, who experienced a slight increase.

  • Vocational-Technical Schools The annual dropout rate for students enrolled in vocational-technical schools was 3.4 percent, identical to the statewide rate. The rate for city/town vocational-technical schools was 5.7 percent, and the rate for regional, independent and county vocational technical schools was 2.9 percent.

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
(781) 338-3000


Robert V. Antonucci
Commissioner of Education

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Last Updated: March 21, 1997
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