Download & Other Tools
- Definition: Percentage of public high school students who drop out of high school, based on the four-year adjusted cohort dropout rate (e.g., 2013 figures show that 11.4% of the students who started high school in 2009 statewide dropped out). The adjusted cohort dropout rate measures the percentage of students who exit grades 9-12 without a high school diploma, GED, or special education certificate of completion and do not remain enrolled after the end of the fourth year.Number of public high school students who drop out of high school, based on the four-year adjusted cohort dropout rate. The adjusted cohort dropout rate measures the number of students who exit grades 9-12 without a high school diploma, GED, or special education certificate of completion and do not remain enrolled after the end of the fourth year.
- Data Source: California Dept. of Education, California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) (Oct. 2014).
- Footnote: Years presented are the final year of a school year, e.g., 2012-13 is shown as 2013. For percentages, LNE (Low Number Event) refers to data that have been suppressed because there were fewer than 20 dropouts in grades 9-12; for numbers, LNE refers to data that were suppressed because there were 10 or fewer dropouts. N/A means that data are not available; in some cases, this is because a school district or county had an unusually high dropout rate (75% or higher), suggesting a potential problem with the data. Dropout rates for schools districts with a large number of short-term students may be overstated because official enrollment figures may be too low. Schools operated by County Offices of Education are not shown because of the challenges in interpreting dropout figures for high-mobility schools.
- Measures of High School Graduation on Kidsdata.org
Kidsdata.org shows the California Dept. of Education's four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, which measures the number and percentage of students who graduate from high school with their class, either with a high school diploma, GED, or special education certificate of completion. These data also are available by gender and by race/ethnicity. Also available is the California Dept. of Education's four-year adjusted cohort dropout rate, which reflects the number and percentage of public high school students who exit grades 9-12 without a high school diploma, GED, or special education certificate of completion and do not remain enrolled after the end of the fourth year. Data are provided by race/ethnicity as well.
- High School Graduation
- Bullying and Harassment at School
- Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Bullying/Harassment for Bias-Related Reason (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Disability as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Gender as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Race or National Origin as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Religion as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Sexual Orientation as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Other Non-Specified Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- College Eligibility
- Births to Unmarried Women (California & U.S. Only)
- Child Population
- Children in Rural and Urban Areas (California & U.S. Only)
- Public School Enrollment
- Total Population
- Community Connectedness
- Caring Adults in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Adults in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Total Community Assets (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Disconnected Youth
- Math Proficiency
- Pupil Support Service Personnel
- Reading Proficiency
- School Safety
- Perceptions of School Safety (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Fear of Being Beaten Up at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Physical Fighting at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Carrying a Gun at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Carrying a Knife or Other Weapon at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- School Connectedness
- Caring Adults at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Teachers and Others (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Total School Assets (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- School Connectedness (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Truancy, Suspensions & Expulsions
- Teen Births
- Why This Topic Is Important
Research has shown that dropping out of high school is associated with a range of adverse employment and life outcomes (1). Young people who do not complete high school are more likely to be unemployed, live in poverty, be dependent on welfare benefits, have poor physical and mental health, and engage in criminal activity than those with higher education levels (1). Though many individuals who do not receive a high school diploma go on to earn an equivalency degree, such as a GED, this credential also is associated with lower earning potential than a traditional diploma (2). The economic consequences of dropping out of high school do not stop with the individual; society also faces costs in terms of greater spending on public assistance and lower tax revenues (2). For example, in California, high school dropouts cost an estimated $46 billion annually (3). Dropout rates also are related to higher rates of violent crime. A report from the Office of the Attorney General of California asserted that a 10 percent increase in graduation rates would result in a 20 percent reduction in murder and assault rates (3).
For more information on high school dropouts see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Child Trends. (2014). High school dropout rates. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=high-school-dropout-rates
2. Ruse, C. E., & Kemple, J. J. (2009). America’s high schools: Introducing the issue. The Future of Children, 19(1), 3-15. Retrieved from: http://futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=30
3. Office of the Attorney General, California Department of Justice. (2013). In school and on track: Attorney General's 2013 report on California's elementary school truancy and absenteeism crisis. Retrieved from: http://oag.ca.gov/truancy/2013
- How Children Are Faring
In California, 80% of students who started high school in 2009 graduated with their class in 2013, up from 75% in 2010. Rates vary substantially at the county level, however; in 2013, four counties had graduation rates over 90%, but three counties had graduation rates below 50%. Across counties and years, female students had higher graduation rates than their male counterparts.
2013 figures show that almost 57,000 California students who started high school in 2009 dropped out – about one of every nine students. Dropout rates vary widely not only at the county level but also at the school district level, and among racial/ethnic groups. Generally, African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students have higher dropout rates than Asian American, white, and Filipino students.
- Policy Implications
Students drop out of high school for a variety of reasons. The strongest indicators that students will drop out include: absenteeism,behavioral problems, suspension, and course failure (1, 2). These indicators are attributed to a number of factors, including: poverty, mental health and chronic health diseases, teen pregnancy/child bearing and many other external factors (1, 3, 4, 5). With emerging brain development technology, children at risk of poor educational outcomes can be identified as early as nine-months-old, with critical interventions and evaluations needed in kindergarten, third grade, middle school and at the transition from ninth to tenth grade (3).
Although the dropout rate gap has been closing significantly in the past two decades, graduation rates are particularly low among African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students in California (1, 2, 3, 5). Other populations at greater risk of dropping out of high school include: English learner students, foster youth, and special education students (7, 8, 9).
According to research and subject experts, policies that could prevent and reduce high school dropout include:
For more policy ideas and research on this topic, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section, or visit the California Dropout Research Project, the Institute of Education Sciences What Works Clearinghouse, Schott Foundation for Public Education, Jobs for the Future, or the Education Commission of the States. Also see Policy Implications under the following topics on kidsdata.org: Truancy, Suspensions & Expulsions, College Eligibility, and Teen Births.
- Improving policies and programs focusing on transitional academic achievement and student engagement into and from elementary school, middle school and high school (1, 2, 3).
- Ensuring states and districts set aggressive annual measurable objectives for increasing the number of students who graduate (2).
- Redoubling efforts to target policy, evidence-based interventions, and additional resources to enable low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, and limited English proficiency students to achieve graduation rates equal to more advantaged students (2).
- Building strong school-family connections and adult mentor relationships to address more personalized interventions for students who begin “indicating” potential dropout behavior in middle grades 8-10 (1, 2, 10).
- Increasing the use of school-based health centers and access to health care to provide disease management, early mental health diagnosis/management and interventions targeting adolescent risk behaviors including: smoking and other drug use and sexual encounters (9).
- Ensuring funding and support for comprehensive data systems that can accurately document the extent of the problem and inform strategies for student success, including early warning data sharing, longitudinal tracking, and continued use of the adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) measurement (1, 2, 3).
- Funding and empowering school districts to provide proven, curriculum-based teen pregnancy prevention programs, offered during or after school, that encourage both delayed sexual activity and informed use of contraception among sexually-active teens (11).
Sources for this narrative:
1. Burrus, J., & Roberts, R. D. (2012). Dropping out of high school: Prevalence, risk factors, and remediation strategies. Educational Testing Service R&D Connections, 18. Retrieved from: http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/RD_Connections18.pdf
2. Balfanz, R., et al. (2014). Building a grad nation: Progress and challenge in ending the high school dropout epidemic (annual update). Civic Enterprises, Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, America’ Promise Alliance. Retrieved from: http://www.civicenterprises.net/MediaLibrary/Docs/17548_BGN_Report_finalfull.pdf
3. United Way Worldwide. (n.d.). Solving the high school graduation crisis: Identifying and using school feeder patterns in your community. Retrieved from: http://new.every1graduates.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Solving-High-School-Grad-Crisis-Report-Identifying-Feeder-Patterns.pdf
4. Kena, G., et al. (2014). The condition of education 2014. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/
5. Breslau, J. (2010). The connection between health and high school dropout. University of California, Santa Barbara for the California Dropout Research Project. Retrieved from: http://www.cdrp.ucsb.edu/pubs_reports.htm
6. As cited on kidsdata.org, High school dropouts, by Race/Ethnicity. California Department of Education, California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS). Retrieved from: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/sd/sd/filescohort.asp
7. Thurlow, M. L., & Johnson, D. R. (2011). The high school dropout dilemma and special education students. University of California, Santa Barbara for the California Dropout Research Project. Retrieved from: http://www.cdrp.ucsb.edu/pubs_reports.htm
8. Callahan, R. M. (2013). The English learner dropout dilemma: Multiple risks and multiple resources. University of California, Santa Barbara for the California Dropout Research Project. Retrieved from: http://www.cdrp.ucsb.edu/pubs_reports.htm
9. Barrat, V. X., & Berliner, B. (2013). The invisible achievement gap: Education outcomes of students in foster care in California’s public schools. San Francisco: WestEd. Retrieved from: http://www.stuartfoundation.org/docs/default-document-library/the-invisible-achievement-gap-report.pdf?sfvrsn=2
10. Jobs for the Future. (2014). In and beyond schools: Putting more youth on the path to success with integrated support. Retrieved from: http://www.jff.org/publications/and-beyond-schools-putting-more-youth-path-success-integrated-support11. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health. (2013). Programs for replication (28 effective programs). Retrieved from: http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/teen_pregnancy/db/index.html
- Websites with Related Information
- American Youth Policy Forum
- America's Promise Alliance
- California Dropout Research Project, UC Santa Barbara, Gervitz Graduate School of Education
- Jobs for the Future
- National Conference of State Legislatures: Dropout Prevention and Recovery
- National Dropout Prevention Center/Network
- Pathways to Reconnection, CLASP
- What Works Clearinghouse, Institute of Education Sciences
- Youth Transitions Funders Group (YTFG)
- Key Reports
- America's High Schools, 2009, The Future of Children (19)1
- Building A Grad Nation, 2014, Civic Enterprises, Johns Hopkins University, America’s Promise Alliance, & Alliance for Excellent Education
- Effective Strategies for Dropout Prevention, National Dropout Prevention Center/Network
- Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap, 3/2010, Equity Matters: Research Review No. 6. The Campaign for Educational Equity, Basch, C. E.
- In and Beyond Schools: Putting More Youth on the Path to Success with Integrated Support, 4/2014, Jobs for the Future
- The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools, 8/2011, Alliance for Excellent Education
- Transition to Adulthood, 2010, The Future of Children, 20(1)
- County/Regional Reports
- 2014 Solano Children's Report Card, Children's Network of Solano County
- 2014 Youth Wellbeing Report Card, Santa Monica Cradle to Career
- 2015 Kern County Report Card, 2015, Kern County Network for Children
- Children's Report Card, 2013, Sacramento County Children's Coalition
- College Readiness as a Graduation Requirement: An Assessment of San Diego’s Challenges, 4/2013, Public Policy Institute of California, Betts, et al.
- County of San Mateo Adolescent Report 2014-15, San Mateo County Health System
- Fresno Community Scorecard, Fresno Business Council & Valley PBS
- Orange County Community Indicators Report, 2014, Orange County Community Indicators Project
- Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2014, Orange County Children's Partnership
- Santa Clara County Children's Agenda: 2014 Data Book, Planned Parenthood & Kids in Common
- What Factors Predict High School Graduation in the Los Angeles Unified School District?, 2013, California Dropout Research Project
- More Data Sources For High School Graduation
- Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rates at the School Level: School Year 2010-11, 2014, National Dropout Prevention Center/Network
- Child Trends Databank: High School Dropout Rates
- Childstats.gov, Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics
- DataQuest, California Dept. of Education
- Education Data Partnership (Ed-Data)
- National Center for Education Statistics: Data Tools, U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences