Event and Status Dropout Rates
Event, status, and cohort dropout rates each provide a different perspective on the student dropout population. The National Center for Education Statistics presents definitions and data for all three types of dropout rates in order to provide a more comprehensive picture of the dropout problem in the United States. High school completion rates conclude the profile of high school outcomes for young adults in the United States.
Types of Dropout Rates
- Event rates describe the proportion of students in a given age range who leave school each year without completing a high school program. In this report, the event rate measures young adults ages 15 through 24 who dropped out during the school year preceding the data collection. This annual measure of recent dropout occurrences provides important information about how effective educators are in keeping students enrolled in school.
- 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 in a given age range, regardless of when they last attended school. In this report, the status rate measures young adults ages 16 through 24 who are not enrolled in school and who have not completed a high school diploma or obtained an equivalency certificate. 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.
- 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 collections5.
Cohort data are available only sporadically and are not presented in this year's report. The most recent information available is from the August 1994 Third Follow-up of the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, which contains data on a cohort of the 8th-grade class of 1988. These data were previously reported in U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Dropout Rates in the United States: 1998, NCES 2000-022, by P. Kaufman, J. Kwon, and S. Klein (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1999). The next available cohort data will be data from the Fourth Follow-up to the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988. These data will follow up dropouts from the 8th-grade class of 1988, 8 years after their scheduled high school graduation. Results from the Fourth Follow-up are expected to be published in the 2001 annual dropout report.