How does the CCD dropout rate compare with other
NCES publishes three types of dropout rates.
Event rates describe the proportion of students who leave
school each year without completing a high school program. This
annual measure of recent dropout occurrences provides important
information about how effective educators are in keeping students
enrolled in school. Data used to compute event rates are collected
through the CCD and the Current Population Survey (CPS).
Status rates provide cumulative data on dropouts among all
young adults within a specified age range. Status rates are higher
than event rates because they include all dropouts regardless of
when they last attended school. Since status rates reveal the extent
of the dropout problem in the population, these rates also can be
used to estimate the need for further education and training designed
to help dropouts participate fully in the economy and life of the
nation. Data used to calculate status rates for young adults ages
16 through 24 are collected through the CPS.
Cohort rates measure what happens to a group of students
over a period of time. These rates are based on repeated measures
of a cohort of students with shared experiences and reveal how many
students starting in a specific grade drop out over time. Typically,
data from longitudinal studies provide more background and contextual
information on the students who drop out than are available through
the CPS or CCD data collections. Data used to calculate cohort rates
were collected through the National Education Longitudinal Survey
of 1988 (NELS:88), and are included in subsequent longitudinal files.
Conceptually, the dropout collection through the CCD is designed
to be consistent with the current CPS procedures. However, there
are operational differences in dropout collection procedures between
the two data sets. First, the CCD represents a state's public school
dropout counts; in other words, the dropout rate represents the
number of public school students who have dropped out over the total
number of public school students enrolled in the state. This differs
from the CPS dropout counts in a few ways. The CPS counts include
students who were enrolled in either public or private schools.
Secondly, the CPS is a count of young adults who live in the state,
not necessarily those who went to school in that state. The third
difference between CPS and CCD dropout collection procedures is
that the CCD collects data on dropouts from grades 7 through 12
and reports event rates based on grades 9 through 12 versus only
grades 10 through 12 in the CPS. Fourth, the CCD collection is based
on administrative records rather than a household survey as in CPS.
One other difference is that, in contrast to the CPS, the CCD collection
counts those students who leave public school to enroll in GED programs
(outside the public education system) as dropouts, but they are
not counted as dropouts in the estimates NCES publishes based on
CPS data. Finally, the CPS is not traditionally used to report state-level
How does the CCD 4-year completion rate differ
from the CPS completion rate?
The CCD and CPS are different types of data collections that lead
to different completion rates. The CCD is an annual administrative
records data collection from SEAs of data about schools, districts,
and states. The CPS is a monthly household survey of 50,000 households
conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics
to provide information about employment, unemployment, and other
characteristics of the civilian noninstitutionalized population.
Many of the differences between the CCD and CPS dropout collections
are evident in their respective data collection procedures. There
are additional distinctions, however. The CCD is more of an accountability
measure for states while the CPS measure defines a population. The
main difference is that the CCD 4-year completion rate is a leaver
rate, of those that leave school, how many completed. The CPS measures
an age group of the population (in NCES' case 18- to 24-year-olds)
and asks if they graduated from school. Thus, the CCD estimates
a cohort completion rate for those who have left school, while the
CPS provides a status rate based on the total young adult population.
Because not all states report dropouts using the CCD definition,
the CCD cannot provide national totals for dropout or completion
rates. It is also not advisable to create "reporting state" totals,
because the bias introduced by those states that are missing is
unknown. When all states are able to report to NCES using the CCD
dropout definition, a national total of dropouts and completers
can and will be reported.
Thanks are due to Julia Naum, Michael Freeman, and Kathryn Chamberlain
from the Census Bureau for the creation and production of the tables.
Special thanks as always go to Lee Hoffman, Jennifer Sable, and
Tai Phan who provided data and editorial support for this report.
The author gratefully acknowledges the comments and suggestions
of the reviewers. Reviewers from outside the Department of Education
include Quansheng Shen, New Jersey Department of Education, and
Melinda Fowler, Texas Education Agency. Reviewers from the Department
of Education include Christine Jackson, Office of Elementary and
Secondary Education, Carolyn Lee, Office of Vocational and Adult
Education, and Jim Houser, Office of the Deputy Secretary. Thanks
to the following reviewers from NCES: Chris Chapman, Barbara Holton,
Janice Plotczyk, Marilyn Seastrom, and Tom Snyder.
Young, B., and Hoffman, L. (2002). Public
High School Dropouts and Completers From the Common Core of Data:
School Years 1991-92 through 1997-98. (NCES 2002-317). U.S.
Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education
Kaufman, P., Alt, M., and Chapman, C. (2002). Dropout
Rates in the United States: 2000.
(NCES 2002-114). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National
Center for Education Statistics.
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