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Dropout Rates 1998 - 1999

August, 2000

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to issue our annual publication, Dropout Rates in Massachusetts Public Schools: 1998-99. This report provides information on students who dropped out of Massachusetts public schools during the 1998-99 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 1998-99 annual dropout rate was 3.6 percent, an increased rate from the previous three years. A total of 9,188 students enrolled in grades nine through twelve dropped out of Massachusetts public schools in the 1998-99 school year and did not return to school by October 1, 1998.

  • Rate Over Time The annual statewide dropout rate has increased from the previous three years' rates of 3.4 percent to 3.6 percent in 1999.

  • Distribution of Rates for Individual Schools The annual dropout rate varied widely among individual schools, ranging from zero percent to 87 percent. More than half of the schools (55 percent) had a dropout rate of 2.5 percent or less. Approximately six percent of the schools had a rate higher than 10 percent.

  • Grade Students in grade eleven dropped out at a higher rate, 4.3 percent, than did students in other grades. The 1998-99 dropout rate was 3.8 percent for tenth graders, 3.1 percent for twelfth graders and 3.1 percent for ninth graders. These differences according to grade level are consistent with data from previous years.

  • Gender The 1998-99 dropout rate was 4.0 percent for males and 3.1 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 9.8 percent. The dropout rate was 6.7 percent for African-American students and 4.0 percent for Native American students. Asian students had a rate of 3.6 percent and white students had the lowest dropout rate, 2.5 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 4.9 percent, and the rate for regional, independent and county vocational-technical schools was 2.4 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) 338-3599

Thank you for your interest in this report.


David P. Driscoll
Commissioner of Education

Table of Contents



Analysis of Dropout Rates

Results for Selected Student Populations

Projected Four-Year Dropout Rates by District, 1999

Annual Dropout Rates by School and District

Complete Report in PDF Format (2.51MB)

Last Updated: August 1, 2000
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