Information Services - Statistical Reports
Dropout Rates 1995 - 1996
Letter from the Commissioner
March 21, 1997
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
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,
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Accountability and Evaluation Services
75 Pleasant Street
Robert V. Antonucci
Commissioner of Education
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