Information Services - Statistical Reports

Dropout Rates 1998 - 1999

Results for Selected Student Populations

Because the dropout rate varies among specific student populations, examining the rate for specific populations is important in developing and targeting dropout prevention efforts. The data collected allow for an analysis by grade level, gender, race/ethnicity, and certain types of schools.


Figure 1



Figure 2

Vocational-Technical Schools

Figure 3

Charter Schools

Returned Dropouts

Of all students who dropped out during the 1998-99 reporting year, 17.6 percent returned to school by October 1, 1999. These students are referred to as returned dropouts. This percentage is higher than it was the prior year, when 15.8 percent of all dropouts returned to school.

Table 5. Returned Dropouts as a
Percentage of All Dropouts, 1998-99*
Returned DropoutsNumber of SchoolsPercent of Schools
0% 71 23
1-20% 141 46
21-40% 66 22
41-60% 13 4
61-80% 6 2
81-99% 1 0
100% 7 2
* Table includes only those schools who had dropouts. Percent of schools may not total to 100 percent due to rounding.
  • The percentage of returned dropouts varied by school. Of the 305 schools that had any of the grades nine through twelve and had dropouts during the 1998-99 reporting year, a majority (almost 70 percent) had less than 20 percent of their dropouts re-enroll in school.

  • Approximately 23 percent (71 schools) had none of their dropouts return to school by October 1, 1998. Seven schools had all of their dropouts return to school.

The percentage of returned dropouts also varied among specific populations of students. In other words, certain student populations were more likely to return to school than others.

Technical Information

Data Collection

In accordance with the U.S. Department of Education definition, a school dropout in Massachusetts is defined as a student who leaves school prior to graduation for reasons other than transfer to another school and does not return to school by October 1 of the following reporting year. Individual public schools reported to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education the number of students who dropped out over a 12-month period beginning July 1, 1998, and ending June 30, 1999. Dropout figures were reported in the Year-End School Indicator Report for 1998-99. Schools then reported the number of dropouts who returned to school by October 1, 1999, in a supplement to the Individual School Report, commonly referred to as the October Enrollment Report. In both of these reports, dropouts were classified by gender within five racial/ethnic groups across grades six through twelve. Although the Department collects data on students in grades six through eight, the reported rate represents grades nine through twelve. Data on grades six through eight are available from the Department.

Dropout Rate Formulas

Annual Dropout Rate

In Massachusetts, the annual dropout rate is the number of dropouts from grades nine through twelve over a single one-year reporting period, minus the number of those dropouts who returned to school by the following October 1, divided by the October 1 enrollment for that reporting period. Enrollment data for October 1, 1998, collected in the Individual School Report, were used to determine the 1998-99 dropout rate. Because students who drop out between July 1 and October 1 are counted as dropouts but are not included in the enrollment figure against which the number of dropouts is compared, the rates may be slightly inflated to the extent to which students drop out prior to October 1.

Annual Dropout Rate =
(number of dropouts - returned dropouts) / October enrollment * 100
Statewide annual dropout rate (1998-99) =
(11,157 - 1,969) / 258,026 * 100 = 3.6%

Projected Four-Year Dropout Rate

The projected four-year dropout rate is determined by calculating the cumulative effect of four years of dropping out according to the following formula.

Projected Four-Year Dropout Rate = [1 - (1 - W) (1 - X) (1 - Y) (1 - Z)] * 100
W = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 9
X = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 10
Y = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 11
Z = Annual Dropout Rate in Grade 12
Statewide Adjusted Projected Four-Year Dropout Rate (class of 2002) =
[1 - (1 - .031) (1 - .038) (1 - .043) (1 - .031)] * 100 = 14%

The methodology assumes that (1) current annual dropout rates for grades ten, eleven and twelve will remain constant over the next three years, and (2) students who drop out will not return to school after October 1 of the following year. Grade-specific dropout rates for individual schools and school districts, as well as projected four-year dropout rates for individual schools, are available from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.