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Dropout Rates in The United States: 2002 and 2003

NCES 2008-053
September 2008

State Event Dropout Rates for Public High School Students

State-level event dropout rates for public high school students are calculated using data through 2002 from the Common Core of Data (CCD). The rates reported in this publication reflect the percentage of public school students who were enrolled in grades 9-12 at some point during the 2001-02 school year, were not enrolled in school in October of 2002, and had not earned a high school diploma or completed a state- or district-approved education program.9 State or district education programs may include special education programs and district- or state-sponsored GED programs. State event dropout rates shown here indicate the rate at which students are dropping out of public secondary systems in a given year. They do not include information about individuals outside of the public school system nor about individuals who may have dropped out during a preceding school year. Rates are presented for the 45 states and the District of Columbia that used this common definition of what constitutes a dropout (table 5). (See the Technical Notes in appendix A for the dropout definition.) Because some states do not follow the NCES reporting rules, the CCD data cannot be used to calculate national-level event dropout rates from public schools.10

  • State event dropout rates for 9th- through 12th-grade public high school students: The 2001-02 CCD event dropout rates showed considerable variability across the states, ranging from 1.9 percent in Wisconsin to 10.5 percent in Arizona (table 5).

In all, event dropout rates for public school students in grades 9-12 were lower than 3 percent in nine states: Wisconsin, 1.9 percent; North Dakota, 2.0 percent; Indiana, 2.3 percent; Iowa, 2.4 percent; New Jersey, 2.5 percent; Connecticut, 2.6 percent; Maine and South Dakota, 2.8 percent; and Virginia, 2.9 percent (table 5). Nine states had event dropout rates of 6 percent or more: Delaware, 6.2 percent; Illinois and Nevada, 6.4 percent; Georgia, 6.5 percent; Louisiana, 7.0 percent; Washington and New York, 7.1 percent; Alaska, 8.1 percent; and Arizona, 10.5 percent.


9 Some states report using an alternative 1-year period from one July to the next. Rates for those states are presented because event dropout rates based on the July to July calendar are comparable to those calculated using an October to October calendar (Winglee et al. 2000).
10 NCES is studying imputation strategies for missing dropout data. If implemented, the imputations may result in somewhat different state-level dropout estimates than presented in this report.