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- Definition: Percentage of public high school students who do not complete high school, based on the four-year adjusted cohort dropout rate (e.g., 2014 figures show that 11.6% of the students who started high school in 2010 statewide exited before graduating). 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 who do not complete 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) (Jun. 2015).
- Footnote: Years presented are the final year of a school year, e.g., 2013-14 is shown as 2014. 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 school districts with a large number of short-term students may be overstated because official enrollment figures may be too low.
- Measures of High School Graduation on Kidsdata.org
Kidsdata.org shows the California Department of Education's four-year cohort graduation rate, which measures the number and percentage of students who graduate from high school with their class. These data also are available by gender and by race/ethnicity. In addition, kidsdata.org shows the California Department 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
- Cyberbullying (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Student Bullying/Harassment Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- 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
- 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
- Adults at School Believe in Student Success (Staff Reported)
- Caring Adults at School (Staff Reported)
- School Gives Students Opportunities to Make a Difference (Staff Reported)
- School Motivates Students to Learn (Staff Reported)
- Students Who Are Motivated to Learn (Staff Reported)
- Youth Development or Resilience Is Fostered at School (Staff Reported)
- 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
- Perceptions of School Safety for Students (Staff Reported)
- Perceptions of School Safety for Staff (Staff Reported)
- Student Physical Fighting Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Student Weapons Possession Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- 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 life outcomes (1). Young people who do not complete high school are more likely to struggle with employment, 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 (3). For example, in California, dropping out of high school costs an estimated $46 billion annually (3). Dropout rates also are related to higher rates of violent crime. A report from the California Attorney General estimated that a 10% increase in graduation rates would result in a 20% 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 Databank. (2014). High school dropout rates. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=high-school-dropout-rates
2. The Best Schools. (n.d.). High school diplomas versus the GED. Retrieved from: http://www.thebestschools.org/degrees/high-school-diplomas-versus-ged/
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, 81% of students who started high school in 2010 graduated with their class in 2014, up from 75% of the 2006-2010 cohort. However, rates vary substantially at the local level. For example, in 2014, eight counties had graduation rates over 90%, and four counties had rates below 50%. Across counties and years, female students have higher graduation rates than their male counterparts.
According to 2014 data, just over 57,000 California students who started high school in 2010 dropped out – about 1 in every 9 students. Dropout rates vary widely at the county and school district levels, as well as by racial/ethnic group. 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. Risk factors associated with dropping out include absenteeism, behavioral problems, suspension, and course failure (1, 2, 3). Underlying causes for these factors may be related to chronic health or mental health conditions, poverty, and other issues (1, 3). Children at risk of poor educational outcomes can be identified early and successfully supported to stay engaged in school (1, 3). In addition to identifying and addressing risk factors for dropping out, policymakers can promote evidence-based strategies to foster student, family, school, and community strengths associated with higher graduation rates (1, 2).
Although the gap in dropout rates among racial/ethnic groups has been closing in recent years, California dropout rates still are highest for African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students (1, 4). Other populations at higher risk of dropping out include English Learners, youth in foster care, and special education students (1, 5).
According to research and subject experts, policies that could promote high school graduation include:
For more policy ideas and research on this topic, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section, or visit GradNation, the Institute of Education Sciences What Works Clearinghouse, or the California Dropout Research Project. Also see Policy Implications under the following topics on kidsdata.org: Disconnected Youth, College Eligibility, and Truancy, Suspensions & Expulsions.
- Continuing to encourage K-12 schools to engage students, families, and community partners in developing comprehensive, coordinated, evidence-based systems to support student needs and promote a positive school climate; such systems should involve school-based health services to identify and address student physical and mental health issues, strategies to address behavior problems (e.g., bullying), and efforts to promote social and emotional skills (1, 2, 6, 7)
- Ensuring effective implementation of California’s Local Control Funding Formula and a continued focus on providing adequate resources to support low-income students, students of color, youth in foster care, students with disabilities, and English Learners to achieve graduation rates equal to other students (1, 5)
- Improving policies and programs focused on early identification of students who are struggling, including young students in feeder schools, and providing tailored support for those students, especially at critical periods such as in middle school and the transition to 9th grade; examples of targeted support include improving parent-school communication and engagement, and connecting students to mentoring, tutoring, or other community-based programs (1, 3, 7)
- Continuing to support and improve comprehensive data systems that accurately document dropout risk factors and inform strategies for student success, including early warning indicators, data sharing, longitudinal tracking, and continued use of the adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) measurement (1, 3)
- Setting ambitious, annual measurable objectives for increasing the number of students who graduate (1)
- Avoiding "zero tolerance" school discipline approaches, and promoting discipline policies that are non-punitive, transparent, fair, consistent, and aim to keep students in school when possible (1, 8)
Sources for this narrative:
1. DePaoli, J. L., et al. (2015). Building a grad nation: Progress and challenge in ending the high school dropout epidemic. Civic Enterprises & Everyone Graduates Center at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved from: http://gradnation.org/report/2015-building-grad-nation-report
2. Center for Promise. (2015). The building blocks of a GradNation: Assets for keeping young people in school. America’s Promise Alliance. Retrieved from: http://www.americaspromise.org/sites/default/files/FactorsPromoteGraduation_ResearchBrief_final_0.pdf
3. United Way Worldwide. (2013). Solving the high school graduation crisis: Identifying and using school feeder patterns in your community. Retrieved from: http://gradnation.org/resource/solving-high-school-graduation-crisis
4. As cited on kidsdata.org, High school dropouts, by race/ethnicity. (2015). California Department of Education, California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). Retrieved from: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/sd/sd/filescohort.asp
5. Barrat, V., & Berliner, B. (2013). The invisible achievement gap: Education outcomes of students in foster care in California’s public schools. WestEd. Retrieved from: http://www.wested.org/resources/the-invisible-achievement-gap-education-outcomes-of-students-in-foster-care-in-californias-public-schools-part-1/
6. Basch, C., et al. (2015). Health barriers to learning and the education opportunity gap. Education Commission of the States. Retrieved from: http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/20/69/12069.pdf
7. Bayerl, K., et al. (2014). In and beyond schools: Putting more youth on the path to success with integrated support. Jobs for the Future. Retrieved from: http://www.jff.org/publications/and-beyond-schools-putting-more-youth-path-success-integrated-support
8. Morgan, E., et al. (2014). The school discipline consensus report: Strategies from the field to keep students engaged in school and out of the juvenile justice system. Council of State Governments Justice Center. Retrieved from: http://csgjusticecenter.org/youth/school-discipline-consensus-report/
- Websites with Related Information
- Alliance for Excellent Education
- American Youth Policy Forum
- America's Promise Alliance
- California Dropout Research Project, UC Santa Barbara, Gervitz Graduate School of Education
- Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP): Pathways to Reconnection
- Education Commission of the States
- Everyone Graduates Center, Johns Hopkins University's School of Education
- Jobs for the Future
- National Conference of State Legislatures: Dropout Prevention and Recovery
- National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, Clemson University
- Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis
- What Works Clearinghouse, Institute of Education Sciences
- Key Reports
- 2016 California Children's Report Card, Children Now
- Back to School: Exploring Promising Practices for Re-Engaging Young People in Secondary Education, 2014, America’s Promise Alliance, Center for Promise
- Beyond the GED: Promising Models for Moving High School Dropouts to College, 2014, MDRC, Zachry Rutschow, E., & Crary-Ross, S.
- Black Lives Matter: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males, 2015, Schott Foundation for Public Education
- Building a Grad Nation: Data Brief Overview of 2013-14 High School Graduation Rates, 2016, Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, the America’s Promise Alliance, and the Alliance for Excellent Education
- Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, 2015, Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, DePaoli, J. L., et al.
- California's Future: K-12 Education, 2016, Public Policy Institute of California, Hill, L., et al.
- Critical Choices in Post-Recession California: Investing in the Educational and Career Success of Immigrant Youth, 2014, Migration Policy Institute, Hooker, S., et al.
- Don't Call Them Dropouts: Understanding the Experiences of Young People Who Leave High School Before Graduation, 2014, America’s Promise Alliance, Center for Promise
- Health and Academic Achievement, 2014, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Health Barriers to Learning and the Education Opportunity Gap, 2015, Progress of Education Reform, Basch, C. E., et al.
- In and Beyond Schools: Putting More Youth on the Path to Success with Integrated Support, 2014, Jobs for the Future & California Advancement Project, Bayerl, K., et al.
- In School + On Track: Attorney General's 2014 Report on California's Elementary School Truancy & Absenteeism Crisis, 2014, California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General
- National Dropout Prevention Center/Network: Effective Strategies
- Seven Ways GradMinnesota and Minnesota Alliance With Youth are Working to Raise Graduation Rates, 2015, Pearson Learning News
- The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015: What It Means for Equity and Accountability in California, 2015, Education Trust–West
- The Local Control Funding Formula: An Essential EdSource Guide, 2016, EdSource
- The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model, 2015, Journal of School Health, 85(11), Hunt, H. (Ed.)
- Time for Equity: Expanding Access to Learning, 2015, Voices in Urban Education, 40, Renée, M. (Ed.)
- Transitions from High School to College, 2013, The Future of Children, Venezia, A., & Jaeger, L.
- 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
- 2016 Kern County Report Card, Kern County Network for Children
- Children's Report Card, Sacramento County Children's Coalition
- Collaborating for Equity: A Scan of the Los Angeles Educational Ecosystem, 2015, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Potochnik, T., & Romans, A. N.
- College Readiness as a Graduation Requirement: An Assessment of San Diego’s Challenges, 2013, Public Policy Institute of California, Betts, J. R., et al.
- Community Health Assessment 2015, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health
- County of San Mateo Adolescent Report 2014-15, San Mateo County Health System
- Fresno Community Scorecard
- Orange County Community Indicators Report, 2016, Orange County Community Indicators Project
- Santa Clara County Children's Agenda: 2016 Data Book, Planned Parenthood & Kids in Common
- The 21st Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2015, Orange County Children's Partnership
- More Data Sources For High School Graduation
- 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- 2016-17 California County Scorecard of Children's Well-Being, Children Now
- Building a Grad Nation: Civic Marshall Plan State Indices and Annual Updates, 2015, Every1Graduates.org, Johns Hopkins University's School of Education
- Child Trends Databank: High School Dropout Rates
- DataQuest, California Dept. of Education
- Diversitydatakids.org, Brandeis University, Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy
- Education Data Partnership (Ed-Data): Fiscal, Demographic, and Performance Data on California’s K-12 Schools
- Local Control Funding Formula Reports, California Dept. of Education
- National Center for Education Statistics: Data Tools, U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Education Sciences