In my last post, I discussed the 4 year cohort dropout rates for selected populations in low-income communities (see here). Cohort drop out rates indicate the percentage of students in the same graduating class that dropped out over a 4 year period before receiving a diploma. As a native of Lynn, MA, the particularly high dropout rates for Limited English Proficiency, special education, Hispanic and African American students bothered me. This information also led to me questions. How significant is it really that 31.9% of special education students in Lynn will drop out at some point during high school? If the special education population is for example, 100 students then the number of special ed students dropping out would be about 30; if this population is much larger (say 1,000), the number of drop outs from this group would be substantial.
Here is a comparison between the demographics of the 3 Lynn high schools as a whole (not just graduating students) (top) with the cohort dropout rates of the same populations (bottom) for 2010; all numbers are percentages except 'total student population':
Total Student Population
Limited English Proficiency
Limited English Proficiency
EDIT: There seems to have been some confusion about what the percentages mean. The top table indicates the percentage of in each of the selected populations. The nature of these categories is such that one student could be counted in more than one population (i.e. African American AND low-income; Caucasian AND special education). The only percentages that should/do add up to 100% are male/female; the minority labels do not add up to 100% exactly because there are other, small categories (bi-racial, multi-racial, Native American/Pacific Islander).
The bottom table represents the percentage of each population that drops out. For example, 32.6% of Limited English proficiency students at Lynn Tech dropped out of school during 2009-10. The percentages here will not add up to 100% because these are dropout rates for individual categories that are not mutually exclusive. In other words, just because someone is counted as African American does not mean that he or she will not show up in any other categories. Thus putting numbers here as opposed to percentages would not make much sense and also would not add up to the number indicated in the 'total student population' box.
Sadly, from this we see that Lynn has over 200 students dropping out of school each year. More importantly the answer to the initial question becomes more clear. A substantial number of students in Lynn are Limited English Proficiency, special education and/or low income students; there the significant dropout rates for these communities are a problem that needs to be actively addressed. While the Lynn Public School system has a number of issues to work on including overcrowding and poor MCAS scores, the dropout rate is an important aspect of the educational system that requires attention.
*Part III (Coming July 25): Dropout Rates by Selected Population: SES: See how Lynn compares to its North Shore neighbors
All data taken from: www.doe.mass.edu