Junior Year Dropout Rate For Class Of 2003 Lowest In Five Years- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
For Immediate Release
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106

Junior Year Dropout Rate For Class Of 2003 Lowest In Five Years

MALDEN - The dropout rate for high school juniors is at its lowest point in five years, a decrease that state and education officials say they hope will allay concerns that MCAS pressure would cause the dropout numbers to spike for the class of 2003 as their senior year approached.

According to a new Department of Education report which also details enrollment numbers for the class, just 3.6 percent of high school juniors (2,233 students) dropped out last year. This is down from 4 percent the previous year, and significantly lower than the five-year high of 4.3 percent in 1998-99.

A dropout is defined as someone who leaves school prior to the end of the school year for reasons other than to transfer elsewhere, and does not return by October 1 of the following school year.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lauded the decrease in dropouts, and said the diminishing numbers just help to reinforce his commitment to the importance of holding all students in the state to the same high standard.

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll agreed, adding that he hopes these numbers will calm the anxiety of MCAS opponents who have long predicted that dropout numbers will dramatically increase as June 2003 approached.

“These statistics clearly show that those who suggested the sky was going to fall because of MCAS were wrong,” he said. “Once again, our kids have shown us that when we present them with challenge, they will rise to meet them. This is yet another tribute to the good work our administrators, teachers, parents and students do every day.”

In addition to dropouts, the report also looked at why the total enrollment for the class of 2003 dropped as the class moved from its junior year to senior year. As juniors, in the 2001-2002 school year, there were 64,187 students in the class; as seniors, in the 2002-2003 school year, there are currently 60,800 students enrolled.

Included in that 60,800 are approximately 3,400 students who moved in the class this year as seniors. All of these students either moved in from out of state, transferred in from private schools, or were retained in grade 12 from the class of 2002.

These numbers are based on enrollment figures reported by the districts on October 1 of 2001 and 2002. According to the report, less than 1 percent of the class, or about 560 students, dropped out over the summer. In addition:

  • 3.3 percent (about 2,100) were retained in grade 11
  • 2.9 percent (about 1,900) were transferred out of state or to a private school
  • 2 percent (about 1,300) graduated early with the class of 2002
  • .2 percent (about 140) were placed in a private placement by the district

For the full report, look online at www.doe.mass.edu/InfoServices/reports/enroll/03/.

Last Updated: February 13, 2003

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