New DOE Report: 2005-2006 Numbers Show Slight Decline in Dropouts- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Contact:Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106

New DOE Report: 2005-2006 Numbers Show Slight Decline in Dropouts

Majority of Seniors Who Dropped Out Already Earned CD

MALDEN - More seniors dropped out of high school during the 2005-2006 school year than students in any other grade, even though more than 65 percent had already passed the English and Math MCAS exams, according to a new Department of Education report.

In all 9,910 students (3.3 percent) in grades nine through 12 dropped out during the 2005-2006 school year. Of that total, 2,584 were already in the 12th grade and 1,742 of them had already passed both high stakes assessment tests.

Of all of the dropouts, 24.9 percent were ninth graders, 25.3 percent were 10th graders, 23.8 percent were 11th graders and 26.1 percent were high school seniors.

"It is concerning to me that so many of our older students are getting within striking distance to earning a high school diploma, but dropping out before they can graduate," said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. "In today's society employers are looking for a college degree, not just a high school diploma, meaning that high school dropouts are leaving themselves with few – if any – options."

A non-scientific survey of district superintendents conducted by the Department of Education in 2005 found that family problems and academics were the two main reasons why students drop out of high school. Other reasons included economics, frequent truancy, health issues and a lack of interest in school. Many high achieving students have also reported that they dropped out to start working because they didn't think they could afford the cost of college tuition.

The Department of Education and Board of Higher Education jointly launched the "Think Again" campaign earlier this year, aimed at encouraging students to finish high school and reconsider going to college. The multi-media campaign and accompanying website is funded by a National Governor's Association grant the state received in 2005.

The 2005-2006 dropout rate of 3.3 percent represents a decrease from the 2004-2005 rate of 3.8 percent (11,145 students). This is due mainly to the state's new GED completion database, which identifies students who drop out but pass the high school equivalency exam by the following October 1. Until now the state has relied on districts to self-report GED earners.

Under federal guidelines, any student who drops out but returns, graduates or receives a GED by the following October 1 is considered to be a "return dropout" and should not be calculated into the dropout total for the previous school year.

In total 2,899 return dropouts were identified this year; there were 1,648 return dropouts the previous year.

"This database lets us see the whole picture, whereas in the past we were unsure how many GED earners were going unreported," Driscoll said. "I feel comfortable that this year we have a number that truly captures the complete dropout population."

Also according to the report:

  • 50 percent of the dropouts were white, 28.1 percent were Hispanic, 18 percent were Black and 2.9 percent were Asian.
  • More males dropped out than their female classmates: 58.2 percent of the dropouts were male; 41.8 percent were female.
  • Of the total group of dropouts, 77.4 percent were general education students, 89.7 percent were non-Limited English proficient students and 59.4 percent were non- low income students.

The full report, including local district numbers, can be viewed online at For more information on the state's Think Again campaign, go to

Last Updated: June 19, 2007

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