High School Dropout Rate Remains Virtually Unchanged, Despite MCAS Pressure- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
For Immediate Release
Monday, August 26, 2002
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106

High School Dropout Rate Remains Virtually Unchanged, Despite MCAS Pressure

MALDEN - Allaying concerns that MCAS pressure would lead to an increase in dropouts among the class of 2003, the state’s new dropout report shows that just 3.5 percent of 10th graders dropped out in the 2000-2001 school year, down from 3.7 percent the previous year.

According to the report released today, the percentage of all teens in grades 9-12 who dropped out and didn’t return the following year stayed at 3.5 percent for the second straight year in 2000-2001, a .1 percent drop from 1998-1999.

In all, a total of 9,380 high school left school before that June and did not re-enroll before the following October 1.

“I am pleased to see our dropout numbers are not rising, especially among our sophomores,” said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. “But I won’t be happy until I see our numbers steadily decreasing in every grade. We need to do more to ensure that students do not see dropping out as their only option, and that each one instead feels welcomed and accepted in our high schools. I am especially looking forward to future reports tied to our SIMS tracking system, which will allow us to more definitively track every student in every class.”

Of the students, 1,769 (3.1) were 12th graders, 2,580 (4 percent) were 11th graders, 2,419 (3.5 percent) were 10th graders and 2,612 (3.3 percent) were 9th graders.

The 2000-2001 numbers showed little change from the 1999-2000 numbers, when 3.1 percent of seniors, 3.9 percent of juniors, 3.7 percent of sophomores and 3.1 percent of freshmen dropped out. A total of 5,479 were males and 3,901 were females.

Some communities saw significant decreases, such as: Boston, which dropped to 8.5 percent from 9.4 percent; Chicopee, which dropped to 5.9 percent from 9.6 percent; and Leominster, which dropped to 3.8 percent from 4.3 percent.

Other findings include:

  • Among ethnic groups, dropout numbers either decreased or stayed the same from the previous year. Most notably, at 8 percent, Hispanics had the highest number of dropouts, but the total marked a five-year low among students in that ethnic group.
  • At vocational schools, the dropout rate was 3.3 percent, a slight increase from 3.2 percent the previous year. Among city/town vocational schools the dropout rate was 6.8 percent, significantly higher than 2.1 percent, the rate for regional, county and independent vocational-technical schools.
  • At charter schools, 3.1 percent, or 174 students dropped out. Of the 19 charter schools with grades 9-12, eight had no dropouts, and just three had a dropout rate of more than 10 percent.
  • Of the students who dropped out, 14.6 percent returned by the following October, a decrease from the previous year, when 15.4 percent of students returned to school. In all, 17.3 percent of males returned, an increase from 15.1 percent the previous year. Among ethnic groups, Asian students were the most likely to return, followed by white students.

The full report, including district results, can be viewed on the Department of Education’s Web site.

Last Updated: August 26, 2002

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