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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates 1996 - 1997

February, 1998

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to issue our annual publication, Dropout Rates in Massachusetts Public Schools: 1996-97. This report provides information on students who dropped out of Massachusetts public schools during the 1996-97 reporting year. I hope that this information will contribute to ongoing local and state efforts to strengthen dropout prevention programs.

The completion of high school is a crucial basis for a productive life of citizenship and work. The high school dropout rate, therefore, is an important indicator of performance. It will be one indicator in a system we are developing to evaluate schools and districts in accordance with the Education Reform Act.

Summary of Key Findings

  • Annual Dropout Rate The 1996-97 annual dropout rate was 3.4 percent, a rate unchanged from the previous year. A total of 8,453 students enrolled in grades nine through twelve dropped out of Massachusetts public schools in the 1996-97 school year and did not return to school by October 1, 1997.

  • Rate Over Time The annual statewide dropout rate has declined from 3.7 percent in 1994 to 3.6 percent in 1995 to 3.4 percent in 1996 and 1997.

  • Distribution of Rates for Individual Schools The annual dropout rate varied widely among individual schools, ranging from zero percent to 64 percent. Over half of the schools (54 percent) had a dropout rate of 2.5 percent or less. Approximately five percent of the schools had a rate higher than 10 percent.

  • Grade Students in grade eleven dropped out at a higher rate, 4.0 percent, than did students in other grades. The 1996-97 dropout rate was 3.8 percent for tenth-graders, 3.2 percent for twelfth-graders and 2.8 percent for ninth-graders. These differences according to grade level are consistent with data from previous years.

  • Gender The 1996-97 dropout rate was 3.9 percent for males and 3.0 percent for females. Males have dropped out at a higher rate than females for the past several year.

  • Race/Ethnicity Dropout rates varied widely by race/ethnicity. Hispanic students had the highest annual dropout rate at 8.2 percent. The dropout rate was 6.0 percent for Native American students and 5.6 percent for African-American students. Asian students and white students shared the lowest dropout rate, 2.7 percent. Relative to the prior year, the dropout rate declined for African-American students, increased for Native American, Hispanic, and Asian students, and remained constant for white students.

  • Vocational-Technical Schools The annual dropout rate for students enrolled in vocational-technical schools was 3.2 percent, slightly lower than the statewide rate. The rate for city/town vocational-technical schools was 6.1 percent, and the rate for regional, independent and county vocational-technical schools was 2.6 percent.

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
  • Malden, MA 02148
  • (781) 338-3000

Thank you for your interest in this report.


Robert V. Antonucci
Commissioner of Education

Last Updated: February 1, 1998

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