Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates in Massachusetts Public Schools: 2002-03


This report provides information on students who dropped out of Massachusetts public schools during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 reporting years (July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002 and July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003). Dropouts are defined as those students in grades nine through twelve who leave school prior to graduation for reasons other than transfer to another school. During the 2002-03 reporting year, a total of 9,389 ninth- through twelfth-graders dropped out of Massachusetts public schools and did not return to school by October 1, 2003. These students represented 3.3 percent of the 281,939 students enrolled in grades nine through twelve in the state's public schools on October 1, 2002.

This report marks the first time that the dropout rate is reported based on student-level data submitted by districts through the Student Information Management System (SIMS). Prior to the 2001-02 school year, dropout figures were reported by districts in aggregate form in the Year-End School Indicator Report. While the utilization of a student-level data collection ultimately improves the accuracy, validity and reliability of data, it takes time for the state and districts to become familiar with the new data collection and reporting process. As a result of continued efforts to allow districts and the state time to adjust to the new reporting system, and in order to better account for changes in data that may result solely from the new collection method, this report presents for the first time the dropout data for both 2001-02 and 2002-03. Ordinarily this report is released on annual basis and in the following years will resume this schedule.

The majority of analyses in this report examine dropout data over the past five years, of which only the last two are based on SIMS. This five-year analysis is meant to provide a historical context for understanding the past two years of reported dropout data.