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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates 1998 - 1999

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 1998-99 dropout rate for eleventh-graders was 4.3 percent, followed by 3.8 percent for tenth-graders, and 3.1 percent for twelfth-graders. This pattern of dropout rates by grade has remained consistent over time. The rate for the ninth grade increased slightly from 2.7 percent in 1997-98 to 3.1 percent in 1998-99. Each grade level has neither consistently decreased nor increased, but instead has fluctuated slightly from year to year.

Figure 1

Gender

  • Consistent with previous years, the 1998-99 dropout rate was higher for males than for females. The annual rate was 4.0 percent for males, approximately a percentage point higher than the rate of 3.1 percent for females.

  • The dropout rate for males increased slightly in 1998-99 from the prior year (3.9 percent). The dropout rate of 3.1 percent for females increased slightly from 2.9 percent the previous year.

  • The projected four-year rate for males was unchanged from the prior year at 15 percent and had increased from 11 percent to 12 percent for females.

Race/Ethnicity

  • Consistent with previous years, the dropout rates in 1998-99 varied according to race/ethnicity. As in the prior four years, the rate of 9.8 percent for Hispanic students was the highest among the five reported race/ethnicity categories. The annual rate was 6.7 percent for African-American students and 4.0 percent for Native American students. The rate for Asian students was 3.6 and for white students was 2.5 percent.

Figure 2

  • The Hispanic dropout rate showed the largest change of the five reported race/ethnicity categories. The rate increased for Hispanic students from 8.2 percent to 9.8 percent. The annual rate for African-American students increased from 6.1 percent in 1997-98 to 6.7 percent in 1998-99. The rate for Asian students increased slightly from the prior year, from 3.5 to 3.6 percent. The rate for white students decreased slightly from 2.6 to 2.5 percent. The rate for Native American students decreased from 5.3 to 4.0 percent. The rate for Native American students is susceptible to wide fluctuation due to a low number of Native American students enrolled in Massachusetts schools.

  • The projected four-year dropout rate for the Class of 2002 showed similar disparity by race/ethnicity. The rate was highest for Hispanic students at 33 percent, followed by African-American students at 24 percent and Native American students at 17 percent. The rate was 14 percent for Asian students and 10 percent for white students.

Vocational-Technical Schools

Figure 3

  • In 1998-99, the dropout rate for students enrolled in grades nine through twelve in the state's vocational-technical schools was 2.9 percent, lower than the statewide rate. Of the vocational students who dropped out, 79.4 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 4.9 percent for city/town vocational-technical schools was approximately twice the rate of 2.4 percent for regional, county and independent vocational-technical schools.

  • The annual dropout rate for all vocational-technical schools remained the same between 1997-98 and 1998-99. The rate for regional vocational-technical schools decreased, from 2.5 to 2.4 percent, and the rate for city/town vocational-technical schools decreased from 5.1 to 4.9 percent. Figure 3 illustrates the dropout rate for vocational schools compared to other schools for the 1998-99 school year. In grades nine and ten, the dropout rate for vocational schools is lower than the rate for all other schools. The opposite is true in grades eleven and twelve.

  • The projected four-year dropout rate for all vocational-technical schools was 12 percent. The projected four-year rate was 19 percent for city/town vocational-technical schools and 9 percent for regional, county and independent vocational-technical schools.

Charter Schools

  • During the 1998-99 school year, a total of 2,216 students in grades nine through twelve attended charter schools. Of these, 140 students dropped out, resulting in a dropout rate of 6.3 percent. Of the seventeen charter schools with any of the grades nine through twelve, six had no dropouts, six had a dropout rate between 0.1 and 3 percent, two had a rate between 5 and 9 percent, and three had a rate over 10 percent.

Returned Dropouts

Of all students who dropped out during the 1998-99 reporting year, 17.6 percent returned to school by October 1, 1999. These students are referred to as returned dropouts. This percentage is higher than it was the prior year, when 15.8 percent of all dropouts returned to school.

Table 5. Returned Dropouts as a
Percentage of All Dropouts, 1998-99*
Returned DropoutsNumber of SchoolsPercent of Schools
0% 71 23
1-20% 141 46
21-40% 66 22
41-60% 13 4
61-80% 6 2
81-99% 1 0
100% 7 2
* Table includes only those schools who had dropouts. Percent of schools may not total to 100 percent due to rounding.
  • The percentage of returned dropouts varied by school. Of the 305 schools that had any of the grades nine through twelve and had dropouts during the 1998-99 reporting year, a majority (almost 70 percent) had less than 20 percent of their dropouts re-enroll in school.

  • Approximately 23 percent (71 schools) had none of their dropouts return to school by October 1, 1998. Seven schools had all of their dropouts return to school.

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   In 1998-99, students in grade twelve (20.2 percent) were most likely to return to school, followed by grade ten (18.4 percent), grade eleven (18.3 percent) and grade nine (14.0 percent). The figures for grades ten through twelve all showed an increase from the previous year, while grade nine showed a decrease.

  • Gender   Male dropouts were more likely to return to school in 1998-99 than female dropouts were. The percentage of returned dropouts for males, 18.3 percent, is an increase from the previous year, when 15.6 percent of all males and females who dropped out returned to school. The percentage of females who dropped out and returned to school in 1998-99 was 16.8 percent.

  • 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, 25.1 percent returned to school. White students (17.6 percent) were the second most likely to re-enroll, followed by Hispanic students (15.4 percent) and African-American students (15.3 percent). Native-American students (11.1 percent) were the least likely to re-enroll. For all race/ethnicity groups, the percentage of dropouts who returned to school increased 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, 16.6 percent returned to school, an increase from 12.8 percent the prior year. Students at city or town vocational schools were more likely to return to school than were students at regional, county or independent vocational schools (19.4 vs. 15.0 percent).

  • Charter Schools   Of the 150 students who dropped out of charter schools, 6.6 percent (ten students) returned to school by October 1, 1999.

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, 1998, and ending June 30, 1999. Dropout figures were reported in the Year-End School Indicator Report for 1998-99. Schools then reported the number of dropouts who returned to school by October 1, 1999, 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. Although the Department collects data on students in grades six through eight, the reported rate represents grades nine through twelve. Data on grades six through eight are available from the Department.

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, 1998, collected in the Individual School Report, were used to determine the 1998-99 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 (1998-99) =
(11,157 - 1,969) / 258,026 * 100 = 3.6%

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 2002) =
[1 - (1 - .031) (1 - .038) (1 - .043) (1 - .031)] * 100 = 14%

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 Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.



Last Updated: August 1, 2000
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