High School Dropout Rate Rises To 3.3 Percent In 2003- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
For Immediate Release
Monday, April 5, 2004
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106 or Kimberly Beck 781-338-3105

High School Dropout Rate Rises To 3.3 Percent In 2003

MALDEN - The dropout rate for high schoolers rose to 3.3 percent during the 2002-2003 school year, a slight increase from the 2001-2002 school year, but still below the five-year high of 3.6 percent set in 1998-99.

According to the new Department of Education report released Monday, a total of 9,389 ninth-through 12th graders dropped out that year. When broken down by class, this translates into 3.2 percent of freshmen, 3.4 percent of sophomores, 3.3 percent of juniors and 3.5 percent of seniors who left school during the 2002-2003 school year and did not return by the following October 1.

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll noted that the senior class rate of 3.45 percent represents a spike from the prior year’s average of 2.9 percent. Of the 2,102 12th graders who dropped out, 39 percent had already met the state’s graduation requirement by passing both the math and English MCAS exams.

“It concerns me to see a higher percentage of our seniors giving up on school when they have already achieved so much and come so far,” he said. “It is critical that our students know we are here for them, and that more is done to ensure that each one feels engaged, and gets whatever assistance they need every day.”

These numbers are based on enrollment figures reported through the Student Information Management System (SIMS) by each districts on Oct. 1, 2002 and Oct. 1, 2003. This is the second year SIMS data has been used to track dropouts, providing the most accurate data to date.

The annual dropout rate varied widely among individual schools. In all, 58 percent had a dropout rate of 2.5 percent or less, and about six percent had a rate higher than 10 percent.

Other findings include:

  • Males have consistently dropped out at a higher rate than females, and this year was no different. The 2002-03 dropout rate was 3.9 percent for males and 2.8 percent for females.
  • Rates varied widely among students of different ethnicities. Hispanic students had the highest annual dropout rate at 7.4 percent, followed by African-Americans at 5.7 percent. In all, 2.6 percent of white students dropped out.
  • The drop-out rates were above the statewide average of 3.3 percent for low-income students, students with limited English proficiency and students with special needs: 5.1 percent of low income students, 6.1 percent of students with limited English proficiency and 4.6 percent of students in special education dropped out.
  • The annual dropout rate for students enrolled in vocational-technical schools was 3.1 percent, somewhat lower than the statewide rate. The rate for city/town vocational-technical schools was 6.8 percent, and the rate for regional, independent and county vocational-technical schools was 2.0 percent.

View the full report, including individual school results.

Last Updated: April 5, 2004

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