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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates 1996 - 1997

Introduction

The following report provides information on students who dropped out of Massachusetts public schools during the 1996-97 reporting year (July 1, 1996, to June 30, 1997). Dropouts are defined as students in grades nine through twelve who leave school prior to graduation for reasons other than transfer to another school. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reports a dropout measure that was developed by the U.S. Department of Education. According to this measure, students who drop out during a particular reporting year but return to school by October 1 of the following year, referred to in this report as returned dropouts, are not counted as dropouts. The dropout rate is the number of students who drop out over a one-year period, from July 1 to June 30, minus the number of returned dropouts, divided by the October 1 enrollment. This measure will eventually be adopted by all states, allowing for comparisons between states and with the national average.

This is the fifth consecutive year that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has reported dropout data using this measure. Prior to 1993, the Department reported a dropout rate that counted all students who dropped out of school regardless of whether they returned to school. This rate, called the unadjusted dropout rate, is not included in this report. Therefore, data in this report are not comparable to data for years prior to 1993. Data comparable with earlier years are available from the Department.

Analysis of Dropout Rates

During the 1996-97 reporting year, a total of 8,453 ninth- through twelfth-graders dropped out of Massachusetts public schools and did not return to school by October 1, 1997. These students represented 3.4 percent of the 246,757 students enrolled in grades nine through twelve in the state's public schools on October 1, 1996.

Table 1. Dropout Rates: 1996-97

             

Projected

Returns

         

Number of

Annual

Four-year

As % of

Enrollment

Dropouts

Rate

Rate*

Dropouts**

Total, Grade 9-12

246,757

8,453

3.4%

--

17.4%

Grade

Grade 9

70,854

1,963

2.8%

13%

14.9%

Grade 10

64,349

2,450

3.8%

--

16.8%

Grade 11

58,784

2,369

4.0%

--

18.0%

Grade 12

52,770

1,671

3.2%

--

20.2%

Gender

Male

125,317

4,856

3.9%

15%

17.4%

Female

121,440

3,597

3.0%

11%

17.4%

Race/Ethnicity

African-American

20,491

1,141

5.6%

21%

13.4%

Asian

9,954

273

2.7%

11%

19.7%

Hispanic

21,223

1,733

8.2%

28%

17.1%

Native American

514

31

6.0%

23%

11.4%

White

194,575

5,275

2.7%

10%

18.2%

Vocational-Technical Schools***

31,179

1,003

3.2%

13%

14.4%

City/Town

5,514

334

6.1%

22%

12.1%

Regional/County/Independent

25,665

669

2.6%

10%

15.5%

*

percentage of ninth graders (Class of 2000) projected to drop out over four-year period

**

percentage of 1996-97 dropouts who returned to school by Oct. 1, 1997

***

figures do not include vocational-technical students enrolled in comprehensive high schools

In addition to the 8,453 dropouts, another 1,778 students dropped out of school during the 1996-97 reporting year but returned to school by October 1, 1997. These students, referred to in this report as returned dropouts, represented 17.4 percent of the total number of students who dropped out during the 1996-97 school year.

Based on the annual dropout rate for each grade level, it is projected that 13 percent of the students who entered ninth grade in the 1996-97 reporting year will have dropped out by the end of their senior year. This statistic, known as the projected four-year dropout rate, is an estimation of the cumulative effect of four years of dropping out for the Class of 2000.

Table 2. Annual Dropout Rates: 1993-1997      
             
   

1992-93

1993-94

1994-95

1995-96

1996-97

             

Total Dropout Rate, Grade 9-12

3.5%

3.7%

3.6%

3.4%

3.4%

Total Number of Dropouts

7,975

8,512

8,396

8,177

8,453

Grade 9-12 Enrollment

229,142

232,046

234,608

240,347

246,757

           

Grade

         
 

Grade 9

3.2%

2.9%

3.1%

2.8%

2.8%

 

Grade 10

3.8%

4.2%

3.7%

3.7%

3.8%

 

Grade 11

4.0%

4.4%

4.5%

3.9%

4.0%

 

Grade 12

3.0%

3.3%

3.1%

3.3%

3.2%

           

Gender

         
 

Male

3.9%

4.2%

4.1%

3.9%

3.9%

 

Female

3.1%

3.2%

3.0%

2.9%

3.0%

           

Race/Ethnic Group

         
 

African-American

6.9%

6.4%

7.3%

5.9%

5.6%

 

Asian

2.7%

3.3%

3.0%

2.3%

2.7%

 

Hispanic

9.6%

9.1%

9.3%

7.9%

8.2%

 

Native American

7.9%

9.3%

5.2%

4.5%

6.0%

 

White

2.6%

2.8%

2.6%

2.7%

2.7%

           

Vocational-Technical Schools*

3.4%

3.2%

4.0%

3.4%

3.2%

 

City/Town

7.3%

4.8%

11.1%

5.7%

6.1%

 

Regional/County/Independent

2.6%

2.8%

2.5%

2.9%

2.6%

           

* figures do not include vocational-technical students enrolled in comprehensive high schools

The 1996-97 annual dropout rate of 3.4 percent was unchanged from the previous year, and remains as the lowest rate in the five years this measure has been used. The projected four-year dropout rate of 13 percent for the class of 2000 also was the same as the prior year’s rate.

The statewide dropout rate masks the wide disparity in the individual school rates and the persistent high rates of some schools. Among individual schools the dropout rate ranged from a low of zero percent to a high of 64 percent. Twelve schools reported no dropouts in 1996-97, an increase from 10 schools the previous year, but a decrease from 18 schools in 1994-95. Another 53 schools reported dropout rates of one percent or less in 1996-97. Fifteen schools reported dropout rates greater than 10 percent. These 15 schools comprised 4.2 percent of the state’s grade nine through twelve enrollment but accounted for 17.5 percent of the state’s dropouts.

Table 3. Projected Four-Year Dropout Rates: Classes of 1996-2000  
             
   

Class of 1996

Class of 1997

 

Class of 1998

 

Class of 1999

Class of 2000

             

Total

13%

14%

14%

13%

13%

             

Gender

         
 

Male

14%

16%

16%

15%

15%

 

Female

12%

12%

12%

11%

11%

             

Race/Ethnic Group

         
 

African-American

25%

23%

26%

22%

21%

 

Asian

10%

13%

12%

9%

11%

 

Hispanic

32%

31%

32%

28%

28%

 

Native American

30%

33%

19%

17%

23%

 

White

10%

11%

10%

11%

10%

             

Vocational-Technical Schools*

13%

12%

15%

13%

13%

 

City/Town

26%

18%

37%

21%

22%

 

Regional/County/Independent

10%

11%

10%

11%

10%

             

* figures do not include vocational-technical students enrolled in comprehensive high schools

Table 4. Distribution of Annual Dropout Rates: 1995-1997
       
 

Number and Percent of Schools*

Annual Rate (%)

1994-95

1995-96

1996-97

 
 

#

%

#

%

#

%

0

18

6.0

10

3.3

12

3.9

0.1 — 1.0

51

17.0

62

20.5

53

17.2

1.1 — 2.5

102

34.0

95

31.5

101

32.8

2.6 — 5.0

75

25.0

83

27.5

84

27.3

5.1 — 7.5

33

11.0

28

9.3

32

10.4

7.6 — 10.0

7

2.3

12

4.0

11

3.6

10.1 and above

14

4.7

12

4.0

15

4.9

             

Total Number of Schools

300

302

308

*excludes schools with enrollments less than 75

 

Results for Selected Student Populations

Because the dropout rate varies among specific student populations, examining the rate for specific populations is important in developing and targeting dropout prevention efforts. The data collected allow for an analysis by grade level, gender, race/ethnicity, and certain types of schools.

Grade

• Students in grade eleven dropped out at a higher rate than did students in other grades. The 1996-97 dropout rate for eleventh-graders was 4.0 percent, followed by 3.8 percent for tenth-graders, and 3.2 percent for twelfth-graders. Ninth-graders had the lowest rate at 2.8 percent. This pattern of dropout rates by grade has remained consistent over time.

• Over the last five reporting years, the dropout rates for each grade level have neither consistently decreased nor increased, but instead have fluctuated slightly from year to year. The 1996-97 ninth grade rate of 2.8 percent, unchanged from the previous year, was the lowest of the five-year period for that grade level. The rate of 3.8 percent for grade ten was up slightly from the grade’s lowest rate of 3.7 percent of the previous two years. The rate for grade eleven increased to 4.0 percent from its lowest rate of 3.9 percent in the prior year. The rate of 3.2 percent for grade 12 was down from 3.3 percent the previous year, but still higher than the grade’s lowest rate for the five-year period of 3.0 percent in 1992-93.

Gender

• Consistent with previous years, the 1996-97 dropout rate was higher for males than for females. The annual rate was 3.9 percent for males, almost a percentage point higher than the rate of 3.0 percent for females.

• The dropout rate for males remained the same in 1996-97 as it was the prior year. The dropout rate of 3.0 percent for females increased from 2.9 percent the previous year.

• The projected four-year rates, 15 percent for males and 11 percent for females, were unchanged from the prior year.

Race/Ethnicity

• Consistent with previous years, the dropout rates in 1996-97 varied according to race/ethnicity. As in the prior four years, the rate for Hispanic students, at 8.2 percent, was the highest among the five race/ethnicity categories. The annual rate was 6.0 percent for Native American students and 5.6 percent for African-American students. The rates for white students and Asian students were both 2.7 percent.

• The annual dropout rate for African-American students decreased from 5.9 percent to 5.6 percent between 1995-96 and 1996-97. The rate remained the same for white students. The rates for Asian students, Hispanic students and Native American students all increased from the prior year, from 2.3 to 2.7 percent for Asian students, from 7.9 to 8.2 percent for Hispanic students, and from 4.5 to 6.0 percent for Native American students. It should be noted that the rate for Native American students is susceptible to wide fluctuation due to low enrollment.

• The projected four-year dropout rate for the Class of 2000 showed similar disparity by race/ethnicity. The rate was highest for Hispanic students at 28 percent, followed by Native American students at 23 percent and African-American students at 21 percent. The rate was 11 percent for Asian students and 10 percent for white students.

Vocational-Technical Schools

• In 1996-97, the dropout rate for students enrolled in grades nine through twelve in the state’s vocational-technical schools was 3.2 percent, slightly lower than the statewide rate. Of the vocational students, 82.3 percent attended regional, county, or independent vocational-technical schools, and the remainder attended vocational-technical schools that were part of city and town school systems. The annual dropout rate of 6.1 percent for city/town vocational-technical schools was more than two times higher than the rate of 2.6 percent for regional, county and independent vocational-technical schools.

• The annual dropout rate for all vocational-technical schools decreased from 3.4 to 3.2 percent between 1995-96 and 1996-97. The rate for regional vocational-technical schools also decreased, from 2.9 to 2.6 percent, while the rate for city/town vocational-technical schools increased from 5.7 to 6.1 percent.

• The projected four-year dropout rate for all vocational-technical schools was 13 percent. The projected four-year rate was 22 percent for city/town vocational-technical schools and 10 percent for regional, county and independent vocational-technical schools.

Charter Schools

• During the 1996-97 school year, a total of 459 students in grades nine through twelve attended charter schools. Of these, 38 students dropped out, resulting in a dropout rate of 8.3 percent. Of the eight charter schools with any of the grades nine through twelve, four had no dropouts, one had a dropout rate of 3.9 percent, two had a rate higher than 10 percent, and one, which lost its charter, did not submit data. It should be noted that the charter school with the highest dropout rate, 23 percent, is a school specifically targeting students who had already dropped out of high school and have returned to school. The majority of these students did not drop out in 1996-97.

Returned Dropouts

Of all students who dropped out during the 1996-97 reporting year, 17.4 percent returned to school by October 1, 1997. These students are referred to as returned dropouts. This percentage is lower than it was the prior year, when 20.3 percent of all dropouts returned to school.

Table 5. Returned Dropouts as a Percentage of All Dropouts, 1996-97*

Cumulative

Returned Dropouts

Number of Schools

Percent of Schools

Percent of Schools

0%

84

26.7%

26.7%

1-20%

123

39.0%

65.7%

21-40%

78

24.8%

90.5%

41-60%

20

6.3%

96.8%

61-80%

6

1.9%

98.7%

81-99%

0

0%

98.7%

100%

4

1.3%

100.0%

       

* table includes only those schools who had dropouts

The percentage of returned dropouts also varied among specific populations of students. In other words, certain student populations were more likely to return to school than others.

Grade Grade levels varied in the likelihood of students who had dropped out returning to school. In 1996-97, students in grade twelve (20.2 percent) were most likely to return to school, followed by grade eleven (18.0 percent), grade ten (16.8 percent) and grade nine (14.9 percent). These figures all showed a decrease from the previous year.

Gender Male and female dropouts were equally likely to return to school in 1996-97. The percentage of returned dropouts for both, 17.4 percent, is a decrease from the previous year, when 21.0 percent of all males who dropped out returned to school, and 19.4 percent of females who dropped out returned to school.

Race/Ethnicity Asian students who dropped out were more likely to return to school than students of other racial/ethnic backgrounds. Of the Asian students who dropped out, 19.7 percent returned to school. White students (18.2 percent) were the second most likely to re-enroll, followed by Hispanic students (17.1 percent) and African-American students (13.4 percent). Native-American students (11.4 percent) were the least likely to re-enroll. For all race/ethnicity groups, the percentage of dropouts who returned to school declined from the previous year.

Vocational-Technical Students at vocational-technical schools were less likely to return to school than were students statewide. Of the vocational students who dropped out, 14.4 percent returned to school, a decrease from 19.6 percent the prior year. Students at city or town vocational schools were less likely to return to school than were students at regional, county or independent vocational schools (12.1 vs. 15.5 percent).

Charter Schools Of the 45 students who dropped out of charter schools, 15.6 percent (seven students) returned to school by October. 1, 1997.

Technical Information

Data Collection

In accordance with the U.S. Department of Education definition, a school dropout in Massachusetts is defined as a student who leaves school prior to graduation for reasons other than transfer to another school, and does not return to school by October 1 of the following reporting year. Individual public schools reported to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education the number of students who dropped out over a 12-month period beginning July 1, 1996, and ending June 30, 1997. Dropout figures were reported in the Year-End School Indicator Report for 1996-97. Schools then reported the number of dropouts who returned to school by October 1, 1997, in a supplement to the Individual School Report, commonly referred to as the October Enrollment Report. In both of these reports, dropouts were classified by gender within five racial/ethnic groups across grades six through twelve.

Dropout Rate Formulas

Annual Dropout Rate

In Massachusetts, the annual dropout rate is the number of dropouts from grades nine through twelve over a single one-year reporting period, minus the number of those dropouts who returned to school by the following October 1, divided by the October 1 enrollment for that reporting period. Enrollment data for October 1, 1996, collected in the Individual School Report, were used to determine the 1996-97 dropout rate. Because students who drop out between July 1 and October 1 are counted as dropouts but are not included in the enrollment figure against which the number of dropouts is compared, the rates may be slightly inflated to the extent to which students drop out prior to October 1.

Annual Dropout Rate =

(number of dropouts - returned dropouts) / October enrollment * 100

Example:

Statewide annual dropout rate (1996-97) =

(10,231 — 1,778) / 246,757 * 100 = 3.4%

Projected Four-Year Dropout Rate

The projected four-year dropout rate is determined by calculating the cumulative effect of four years of dropping out according to the following formula.

Projected Four-Year Dropout Rate = [1 - (1 - W) (1 - X) (1 - Y) (1 - Z)] * 100

W = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 9

X = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 10

Y = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 11

Z = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 12

Example:

Statewide Adjusted Projected Four-Year Dropout Rate (class of 2000) =

[1 - (1 - .028) (1 - .038) (1 - .040) (1 - .032)] * 100 = 13%

The methodology assumes that (1) current annual dropout rates for grades ten, eleven and twelve will remain constant over the next three years, and (2) students who drop out will not return to school after October 1 of the following year. Grade-specific dropout rates for individual schools and school districts, as well as projected four-year dropout rates for individual schools, are available from the Accountability and Evaluation Services unit at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.



Last Updated: February 1, 1998
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