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Dropout Rates in the United States: 2000

Event and Status Dropout Rates

Event Dropout Rates

Event rates calculated using the October 2000 CPS data measure the proportion of students who dropped out between October 1999 and October 20006. These dropouts are 15- through 24-year-olds who were enrolled in high school in October 1999, but had not completed high school and were not enrolled in grades 10-12 a year later. According to this definition, a young person could complete high school by either earning a high school diploma or receiving an alternative credential such as a GED. In October 2000, 5 out of every 100 young adults (4.8 percent) who were enrolled in high school in October 1999 were no longer in school and had not successfully completed a high school program (table 1)7.

Over the past three decades, annual estimates of the event dropout rate have fluctuated between 4.0 and 6.7 percent (figure 1 and table B3). However, overall there has been a downward trend in event dropout rates, from 6.1 percent in 1972 to 4.8 percent in 20008. The percentage of young adults who left school each year without successfully completing a high school program decreased from 1972 through 1987. Despite year-to-year fluctuations, the percentage of students dropping out of school each year has stayed relatively unchanged since 1987. Changes in data collection and estimation procedures coincided with an increase in the rates from 1991 through 1995 (see appendix D). Nevertheless, over the period from 1991 through 2000, there was no consistent upward or downward trend in event rates.

6Specifically, the numerator of the event rate for 2000 is the number of persons 15 through 24 years old surveyed in 2000 who were enrolled in high school in October 1999, were not enrolled in October 2000, and also did not complete high school (i.e., had not received a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate) between October 1999 and October 2000. The denominator of the event rate is the sum of the dropouts (i.e., the numerator) and the number of all persons 15 through 24 years old who attended grades 10-12 in 1999 and were still enrolled in 2000 or had graduated or completed high school.

7Standard errors for all tables and figures are provided in appendixes A and B.

8All changes or differences noted in this report are statistically significant at the 0.05 level. The statistical significance of these comparisons was assessed with Student's t-test with a Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. Time trends noted in this report were assessed using weighted least squares regressions. For a full discussion of the statistical methods used in this report, see appendix D.