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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates 1998 - 1999

Analysis of Dropout Rates

During the 1998-99 reporting year, a total of 9,188 ninth- through twelfth-graders dropped out of Massachusetts public schools and did not return to school by October 1, 1999. These students represented 3.6 percent of the 258,026 students enrolled in grades nine through twelve in the state's public schools on October 1, 1998.

In addition to the 9,188 dropouts, another 1,969 students dropped out of school during the 1998-99 reporting year and were not in school at the end of the year but returned to school by October 1, 1999. These students, referred to in this report as returned dropouts, represented 17.6 percent of the total number of students who dropped out during the 1998-99 school year. The Department does not collect data on students who drop out of school in a reported year, but return before the end of the same school year. The 1998-99 annual dropout rate of 3.6 percent was an increase from the prior three years, when the state rate had been stable at 3.4 percent.

Based on the annual dropout rate for each grade level, it is projected that 14 percent of the students who entered ninth grade in the 1998-99 reporting year will have dropped out by the end of their senior year in 2002. This statistic, known as the projected four-year dropout rate, is an estimation of the cumulative effect of four years of students dropping out of school

Table 1. Dropout Rates: 1998-99
 EnrollmentNumber of
Dropouts
Annual RateProjected
Four-year
Rate*
Returns as %
of Dropouts**
Total, Grade 9-12258,0269,1883.6%--17.6%
Grade
Grade 9
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12

74,874
66,499
61,242
55,411

2,334
2,530
2,618
1,706

3.1%
3.8%
4.3%
3.1%

14%
--
--
--

14.0%
18.4%
18.3%
20.2%
Gender
Male
Female

131,119
126,907

5,206
3,982

4.0%
3.1%

15%
12%

18.3%
16.8%
Race/Ethnic Group
African-American
Asian
Hispanic
Native American
White

21,655
11,150
22,375
601
202,245

1,446
396
2,193
24
5,129

6.7%
3.6%
9.8%
4.0%
2.5%

24%
14%
33%
17%
10%

15.3%
25.1%
15.4%
11.1%
17.6%
Vocational-Technical Schools***
City/Town
Regional/County/Independent
32,333
6,653
25,680
947
328
619
2.9%
4.9%
2.4%
12%
19%
9%
16.6%
19.4%
15.0%

* Percentage of ninth graders (Class of 2002) projected to drop out over a four-year period
** Percentage of 1998-99 dropouts who returned to school by Oct. 1, 1999
*** Figures do not include vocational-technical students enrolled in comprehensive high schools

for the Class of 2002. The projected four-year dropout rate of 14 percent for the class of 2002 had increased from the class of 2001's rate (13 percent). The projected four-year rate for the class of 1999 and 2000 was 13 percent. When comparing dropouts to graduates for the class of 1999 over those four years, the actual dropout rate is estimated to be 14 percent. This rate was computed by adding the number of dropouts each year for the class of 1999 and dividing that number by the number of graduates plus the total number of dropouts. The Department can not guarantee the accuracy of this rate because it is calculated with aggregate data rather than student level data. It is only an estimated rate. If districts and/or schools are interested in calculating dropout rates for the class of 1999 for their individual district or school, the Department recommends that student level data be used to calculate the rate. At present, the Department does not have student level data available for this purpose. Progress is being made to collect and analyze data at the student level; however, the ability to provide the data for this rate is still several years away.

Table 2. Annual Dropout Rates: 1995-1999
 1994-95 1995-961996-971997-981998-99
Total Dropout Rate, Grade 9-123.6%3.4%3.4%3.4%3.6%
Total Number of Dropouts8,3968,1778,4538,5829,188
Grade 9-12 Enrollment234,608240,347246,757252,633258,026
Grade
Grade 9
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12

3.1%
3.7%
4.5%
3.1%

2.8%
3.7%
3.9%
3.3%

2.8%
3.8%
4.0%
3.2%

2.7%
3.6%
4.2%
3.3%

3.1%
3.8%
4.3%
3.1%
Gender
Male
Female

4.1%
3.0%

3.9%
2.9%

3.9%
3.0%

3.9%
2.9%

4.0%
3.1%
Race/Ethnic Group
African-American
Asian
Hispanic
Native American
White

7.3%
3.0%
9.3%
5.2%
2.6%

5.9%
2.3%
7.9%
4.5%
2.7%

5.6%
2.7%
8.2%
6.0%
2.7%

6.1%
3.5%
8.2%
5.3%
2.6%

6.7%
3.6%
9.8%
4.0%
2.5%
Vocational-Technical Schools*
City/Town
Regional/County/Independent
4.0%
11.1%
2.5%
3.4%
5.7%
2.9%
3.2%
6.1%
2.6%
2.9%
5.1%
2.5%
2.9%
4.9%
2.4%

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

The statewide dropout rate masks the wide disparity in individual school rates and the persistently high rates at some schools. Among individual schools the dropout rate ranged from a low of zero percent to a high of 87 percent1 . Nineteen schools reported no dropouts in 1998-99, an increase from 13 schools the previous year. Another 63 schools reported dropout rates of one percent or less in 1998-99. Nineteen schools reported dropout rates greater than 10 percent. These 19 schools comprised 5.7 percent of the state's grade nine through twelve enrollment, but accounted for 23.9 percent of the state's dropouts.

Table 3. Projected Four-Year Dropout Rates:
Class of 1998-2002
 Class of 1998Class of 1999Class of 2000Class of 2001Class of 2002
Total14%13%13%13%14%
Gender
Male
Female

16%
12%

15%
11%

15%
11%

15%
11%

15%
12%
Race/Ethnic Group
African-American
Asian
Hispanic
Native American
White

22%
9%
28%
17%
11%

21%
11%
28%
23%
10%

22%
13%
29%
21%
10%

24%
14%
33%
17%
10%
Vocational-Technical Schools*
City/Town
Regional/County/Independent
15%
37%
10%
13%
21%
11%
13%
22%
10%
12%
19%
10%
12%
19%
9%

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

Table 4. Distribution of Annual Dropout Rates: 1996-1999
 Number and Percent of Schools*
Annual Rate (%)1995-961996-971997-981998-99
 #%#%#%#%
0 10 3 12 4 13 4 19 6
0.1 - 1.0 62 21 53 17 69 22 63 20
1.1 - 2.5 95 32 10133 89 29 93 30
2.6 - 5.0 83 28 84 27 93 30 83 26
5.1 - 7.5 28 9 32 10 26 8 28 9
7.6 - 10.0 12 4 11 4 7 2 12 4
10.1 and above 12 4 15 5 14 5 19 6
Total Number of Schools300 302 311 317 

*Excludes schools with enrollments fewer than 75. Percent of schools may not total to 100 percent due to rounding.



1 Because dropout rates for schools with low enrollments are overly sensitive to small variations in the number of dropouts, the analysis of the distribution of dropout rates excludes schools with a grade 9-12 enrollment of fewer than 75 (25 schools in 1998-99).



Last Updated: August 1, 2000
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