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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates 1997 - 1998

September, 1999

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to issue our annual publication, Dropout Rates in Massachusetts Public Schools: 1997-98. This report provides information on students who dropped out of Massachusetts public schools during the 1997-98 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 school performance.

Summary of Key Findings

  • Annual Dropout Rate The 1997-98 annual dropout rate was 3.4 percent, a rate unchanged from the previous year. A total of 8,582 students enrolled in grades nine through twelve dropped out of Massachusetts public schools in the 1997-98 school year and did not return to school by October 1, 1998.
  • 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, 1997, and 1998.
  • Distribution of Rates for Individual Schools The annual dropout rate varied widely among individual schools, ranging from zero percent to 42 percent. Over half of the schools (55 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, 4.2 percent, than did students in other grades. The 1997-98 dropout rate was 3.6 percent for tenth-graders, 3.3 percent for twelfth graders and 2.7 percent for ninth graders. These differences according to grade level are consistent with data from previous years.
  • Gender The 1997-98 dropout rate was 3.9 percent for males and 2.9 percent for females. Males have dropped out at a higher rate than females for the past several years.
  • 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 6.1 percent for African-American students and 5.3 percent for Native American students. Asian students had a rate of 3.5 percent and white students had the lowest dropout rate, 2.6 percent.
  • Vocational-Technical Schools The annual dropout rate for students enrolled in vocational-technical schools was 2.9 percent, somewhat lower than the statewide rate. The rate for city/town vocational-technical schools was 5.1 percent, and the rate for regional, independent and county vocational-technical schools was 2.5 percent.

If you have any questions or suggestions about the report, please contact:

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Accountability and Targeted Assistance
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148
(781) 338-3000

Thank you for your interest in this report.


David P. Driscoll
Commissioner of Education

Last Updated: September 1, 1999
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