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Public High School Dropouts and Completers from the Common Core of Data: School Years 1991-92 through 1997-98

Home
  Introductory Material
Section A
  Introduction
Section B
   1997–98 Dropouts and Completers
Section C
   Dropouts: Changes Over Time by Selected Characteristics
Section D
   High School Completers: Trends and Selected Characteristics
Section E
   Basic Tables
Section F
   Technical/Methodological Issues
Appendix
   Additional Tables
 
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Contact:
Lee Hoffman


Section C. Dropouts: Changes Over Time by Selected Characteristics

  1. Dropouts Over Time
  2. Dropouts by Gender
  3. Dropouts by Race/Ethnicity
  4. Dropouts by Grade
  5. Dropouts by District Locale

The number of states reporting dropout statistics in agreement with the CCD definition more than tripled between the 1991–92 and 1997–98 school years, from 12 to 37 (table 2). The number of states for which dropout information is published changes from year to year. For this reason, and because none of the years includes all states, the tables do not sum the state level results into one national level count. Readers are cautioned that changes within a single state over time are probably more meaningful than changes among the reporting states as whole.

I. Dropouts Over Time

Table 2 presents the dropout rates for the aggregate of grades 9 through 12 from 1991–92 through 1997–98.4 The inclusion of data from states using a July–June reporting calendar increased the number of reporting states by as many as 14, depending on the year in question, from what had been published in most previous CCD publications (see methodology section for a discussion of reporting calendars).

During the first 2 years of the dropout statistic collection, no more than 15 states reported publishable data. Because the data are most complete for the period 1993–94 through 1997–98, most discussion of changes over time will be limited to this time period for states reporting in both 1993–94 and 1997–98. In order to highlight differences, the text tables have arbitrarily classified dropout rates as relatively high (10 percent or more) or relatively low (less than 4 percent).

A total of 34 states reported publishable data for both of these 2 years. Among this group as a whole, the range among dropout rates was relatively stable from 1993–94 to 1997–98. The range in 1993–94 dropout rates for reporting states was from a low of 2.7 percent in North Dakota to a high of 13.7 percent in Arizona. Four years later, the reported rates ranged from 2.8 percent in North Dakota and Wisconsin to 12.8 percent in the District of Columbia, which is a large city school system.

In 1993–94, eight states reported dropout rates of less than 4 percent; this increased to nine states in 1997–98 (table A). The dropout rates for 19 states were between 4 percent and 7 percent in 1993–94 and 22 states in 1997–98. The number of states reporting dropout rates of 7 percent or higher decreased from seven states to five. (Oregon does not have data for both years and was therefore not included. Louisiana's data were not comparable between these 2 years and were also not included in these totals.)

Dropout rates were more likely to decline than increase over the 4-year interval: rates for 19 reporting states either declined or stayed the same. In this period, the dropout rates increased by 1.0 or more percentage points in the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Utah. (Please note that effective with the 1995–96 school year, Louisiana changed its dropout data collection from school-level aggregate counts reported by districts to an individual student-record system. This increase in the dropout rate is attributable in part to the increased ability to track students.) However, the dropout rates decreased by at least 1 percentage point in Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, New Mexico, and South Dakota.

Table A.—Number of states with high school dropout rates of less than 4 percent and 10 percent or more: School years 1993–94 through 1997–98
School year Less than 4 percent More than 10 percent
1993–94 (35)
8 1
1994–95 (35)
7 2
1995–96 (36)
6 2
1996–97 (35)
8 3
1997–98 (37)
9 3
 
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Local Education Agency Universe Survey Dropout Data and Completion File: School Years 1991–92 through 1996–97," and "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout File: School Year 1997–98."

Changes in numbers of dropouts. The numbers of dropouts for the 1991–92 through 1997–98 period are shown on table 3. Unlike rates, which make large and small states comparable, the actual numbers of dropouts highlight the differences in public school student membership among states.

North Dakota reported fewer than 1,000 dropouts from grades 9 through 12 in each of the 4 years from 1992–93 to 1995–96. In contrast, Georgia and Illinois had more than 25,000 dropouts every year from 1993–94 through 1997–98, as did Ohio in all of these years except 1993–94. For every year from 1993–94 through 1997–98, approximately one out of three reporting states had more than 10,000 high school dropouts.

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II. Dropouts by Gender

A slight but consistent majority of high school dropouts were males (table 4). In only one instance (Arizona, in 1994–95) was 50.0 percent or more of the dropouts female. The states in which high school dropouts were most likely to be males were Maryland and Ohio, in which at least 60.0 percent of dropouts were males in 3 of the 5 years between 1993–94 and 1997–98. Delaware, Maine, Mississippi, and North Dakota also reported at least 60.0 percent of dropouts were males in one or two of these years.

Although this report generally does not discuss data from the outlying areas, two cases should be noted because of their contrast with findings from the states. In Puerto Rico, the majority of dropouts have been females for each of the 6 years that the commonwealth reported dropout statistics. In American Samoa, on the other hand, more than two-thirds of all high school dropouts were males in 5 out of 7 years.

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III. Dropouts by Race/Ethnicity

High school dropout rates for each of five racial/ethnic groups5 were calculated by dividing the number of grade 9 through 12 dropouts in a group by the grade 9 through 12 membership for that group. Because racial/ethnic detail was not reported for student membership on the CCD until 1992–93, tables 5a–f address only the 6 years from 1992–93 through 1997–98. Also, caution should be used when interpreting results by race/ethnicity as some of the racial/ethnic group populations are quite small in some states. To see the percentage of individuals in each racial/ethnic group in the state see tables A-6a–f.

Dropout rates across this time were generally lowest for White and Asian students and highest for American Indian and Hispanic students in the reporting states. Roughly the same number of states reported dropout statistics and racial/ethnic information in the years 1993–94 through 1997–98, and so many of the comparisons are limited to these years.

Table B.—Number of states with high school dropout rates of 10 percent or more, by race/ethnicity: School years 1993–94 through 1997–98
Race/ethnicity 1993–94 (31) 1994–95 (32) 1995–96 (34) 1996–97 (33) 1997–98 (34)
American Indian/Alaska Native
7 9 12 10 11
Asian/Pacific Islander
1 1 1 1 1
Hispanic
14 14 15 14 15
Black
11 11 16 11 10
White
1 1 0 0 0
 
NOTE: The number of states reporting dropouts by race/ethnicity each year appear in the parentheses after the year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout File: School Year 1997–98," and "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout Data and Completion File: School Years 1991–92 through 1996–97."

American Indian students. More than 18 percent of American Indian high school students dropped out of school in 4 of the 5 years in Arizona, Minnesota, and South Dakota (tables 5a–e). On the other hand, American Indian dropout rates were below 4 percent in 4 states in 4 of the 5 years (table C).

Asian/Pacific Islander students. Relative to other minority students, dropping out was rare for Asian/Pacific Islander high school students in reporting states. Only one state in each year from 1993–94 through 1997–98 reported a dropout rate of 10 percent or more in this group. The Asian/Pacific Islander dropout rate was less than 4 percent in more than half of the states every year from 1994–95 through 1997–98 (table C).

Table C.—Number of states with high school dropout rates of less than 4 percent, by race/ethnicity: School years 1993–94 through 1997–98
Race/ethnicity 1993–94 (31) 1994–95 (32) 1995–96 (34) 1996–97 (33) 1997–98 (34)
American Indian/Alaska Native
4 5 4 3 4
Asian/Pacific Islander
15 18 18 19 22
Hispanic
1 1 2 2 3
Black
0 3 1 1 2
White
12 12 15 14 17
 
NOTE: The number of states reporting dropouts by race/ethnicity each year appear in the parentheses after the year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout File: School Year 1997–98," and "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout Data and Completion File: School Years 1991–92 through 1996–97."

Black, non-Hispanic students. Ten reporting states reported dropout rates of 10 percent or more among Black high school students in all 5 years (table B). There were 16 reporting states with Black dropout rates this high in 1995–96, and 10 states in 1997–98. The dropout rate among Blacks was 20 percent or more in Minnesota for all years 1993–94 through 1996–97 (tables 5a–f). In only 2 years, 1994–95 and 1997–98, did more than a single state report a Black high school dropout rate of less than 4 percent.

In five reporting states, the Black dropout rate was threefold the White dropout rate in all 5 years: Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Iowa had Black dropout rates that were three times as great as White dropout rates in 4 years. (New Jersey dropout data by race/ethnicity were only available for 3 years and in each of those years the Black dropout rate was at least three times that of White students.)

Hispanic students. Among Hispanic high school students, dropout rates were 10 percent or higher in about 40 percent of reporting states every year (table B). The dropout rate among Hispanic students was 15 percent or higher in Arizona and Nevada in all 5 years, in Minnesota 4 of the 5 years, and in Oregon in 3 of the 5 years (Oregon only reported in 3 of the 5 years). Few states had relatively low dropout rates for Hispanic students. West Virginia had a dropout rate of less than 4 percent in 4 out of the 5 years; Vermont in 3 out of the 5 years; and Maine in 2 out of the 5 years.

There were five reporting states in which the Hispanic dropout rate was three times the size of the White dropout rate in all 5 years: Connecticut, Minnesota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Massachusetts had Hispanic dropout rates that were three times the White dropout rate in 4 years. (As was the case in the Black dropout rate, New Jersey dropout data by race/ethnicity were only available for 3 years and each of those years the Hispanic dropout rate was three times as great as the White dropout rate.)

White students. By comparison, the dropout rate for White students was above 10 percent in only one reporting state in 1993–94 (Arizona) and 1994–95 (District of Columbia) and no states in 1995–96 through 1997–98 (tables 5a–e). Twelve states had White student dropout rates of less than 4 percent in 1993–94 and 1994–95, as did 14 or more states in the subsequent 3 years (table C).

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IV. Dropouts by Grade

Most of the discussion in this report has been limited to dropouts from the traditional high school grades, 9 through 12. The CCD collects the numbers of dropouts for grades 7 and 8 as well, and this section examines dropout rates from individual grades.

Tables 6a–g shows that relatively few students drop out before the 9th grade. This is not surprising, since attendance is compulsory to at least age 16 in all states.6 The dropout rate for grade 7 was less than 1 percent for roughly two-thirds of reporting states in every year from 1993–94 through 1997–98 (the proportions ranged from 63.9 percent of reporting states in 1995–96 to 71.4 percent in 1996–97). The incidence of dropouts from the eighth grade was similarly low. In 22 states, it was less than 1 percent in 1993–94 and 1997–98.

Comparing the numbers of reporting states with relatively high or low dropout rates at different grades gives an idea of differences over time. There do not appear to be large differences among grade levels or between 1993–94 and 1997–98 when states with dropout rates of 10.0 percent or more are considered (table D).

Table D.—Number of states with high school dropout rates of 10 percent or more, by grade: School years 1993–94 through 1997–98
School year Grade
9th 10th 11th 12th
1993–94 (35)
1 2 4 3
1994–95 (35)
0 3 3 2
1995–96 (36)
2 2 2 3
1996–97 (35)
2 2 2 1
1997–98 (37)
2 2 3 2
 
NOTE: The number of states reporting dropouts each year appear in the parentheses after the year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout File: School Year 1997–98," and "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout Data and Completion File: School Years 1991–92 through 1996–97."

The picture is the same when lower dropout rates, those of less than 4 percent, are examined (table E). Almost half the reporting states had 9th grade dropout rates of less than 4 percent. Low dropout rates were observed less often for grades 10 through 12, but states grew more likely to have lower dropout rates in these grades from 1993–94 to 1997–98.

Table E.—Number of states with high school dropout rates of less than 4 percent, by grade: School years 1993–94 through 1997–98
School year Grade
9th 10th 11th 12th
1993–94 (35)
15 6 4 4
1994–95 (35)
16 7 2 5
1995–96 (36)
16 6 4 7
1996–97 (35)
16 7 5 7
1997–98 (37)
17 9 8 9
 
NOTE: The number of states reporting dropouts each year appear in the parentheses after the year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout File: School Year 1997–98," and "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout Data and Completion File: School Years 1991–92 through 1996–97."

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V. Dropouts by District Locale

The CCD assigns each school a "locale code" that identifies its location relative to a population center. The codes range from "large city" to "rural." (See the glossary for detailed definitions of the locale codes.) These school locale codes have been aggregated to the school districts with which the schools are associated, and the dropout rates among the different types of locale are shown on tables 7a–g.

Differences between large city and rural districts. Not all states have one or more school district in every locale. The District of Columbia, for example, consists of a single urban district while South Dakota has no large city school districts. Because of this, caution should be used when interpreting state differences.

Relatively high dropout rates were most often observed in reporting school districts that served large or mid-sized cities and least frequently in rural areas (table F). Towns, however, had dropout rates in excess of 10 percent for some states in some years. When the slight decline in high dropout rates over time is taken into account (see table 2), the pattern remains consistent: higher proportions of students drop out of high school in large city districts than in any other types, while there is not much difference in the occurrence of high dropout rates among towns and urban fringes.

Table F.—Number of states with high school dropout rates of 10 percent or more, by district locale: School years 1993–94 through 1997–98
School year Locale
Large city Mid-size city Urban fringe large city Urban fringe mid-size city Large town Small town Rural
1993–94 (35)
8 4 1 1 3 1 2
1994–95 (35)
12 3 0 2 2 2 0
1995–96 (35)
11 4 1 2 1 2 0
1996–97 (35)
11 3 1 1 1 2 0
1997–98 (37)
9 2 1 1 2 2 0
 
NOTE: The number of states reporting dropouts each year appear in the parentheses after the year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout File: School Year 1997–98," and "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout Data and Completion File: School Years 1991–92 through 1996–97."

The contrast between rural and large city dropout rates is even more evident when relatively low dropout rates are examined. In 1997–98, 36 of the reporting states included rural school districts. In 16 of these states, the average dropout rate for rural districts was less than 4 percent (table G). Twenty-one states included large city school districts, and in none of these states was the large city dropout rate below 4 percent.

Although the numbers of reporting states were slightly smaller in 1993–94, the findings were similar. One of 18 states with large city districts reported a dropout rate of less than 4 percent in these districts; 19 of 34 states had dropout rates below 4 percent in their rural school districts.

Table G.—Number of states with high school dropout rates of less than 4 percent, by district locale: School years 1993–94 through 1997–98
School year Locale
Large city Mid-size city Urban fringe large city Urban fringe mid-size city Large town Small town Rural
1993–94 (35)
0 7 9 14 6 15 19
1994–95 (35)
0 5 13 14 8 14 17
1995–96 (35)
0 6 12 18 8 10 17
1996–97 (35)
0 5 12 18 6 11 17
1997–98 (37)
0 5 12 13 10 12 16
 
NOTE: The number of states reporting dropouts each year appear in the parentheses after the year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout File: School Year 1997–98," and "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout Data and Completion File: School Years 1991–92 through 1996–97."

Footnotes

4 In the interest of brevity, dropouts from grades 9 through 12 will be referred to as "high school" dropouts throughout this section.

5 The groups were American Indian/Alaska Native; Asian/Pacific islander; Hispanic; Black, not Hispanic; and White, not Hispanic. Minority includes all groups except White, not Hispanic.

6 Council of Chief State School Officers, Key State Education Policies on K–12 Education: 2000. The only exception is Wyoming that allows students to leave school at 16 or upon completing the 10th grade. California, Colorado, and the District of Columbia are missing data.

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