Maryland School Dropout Rate Dips To 2.8%

August 26, 2009|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,

Maryland's dropout rate declined by about half a percentage point in the past year to the lowest rate in recent years, although state officials say the decrease may have been the result of better data collection rather than a change in the numbers of students leaving school.

This past year, 2.8 percent of students in Maryland high schools dropped out, down from 3.7 percent in 2005. There was a 2 percentage-point decline for African-Americans in the same period, the greatest decline among racial groups.

In the past two years, the state has instituted a common tracking system that gives each child a number that allows school systems to keep track of them if they move from one district to another. Using the new tracking system, state education officials found students who were claimed by two school systems at the same time, or who had been counted as a dropout in one school district but had enrolled in another.

The process appeared to show that Baltimore's dropout rate may have been inflated in the past, said Leslie Wilson, head of assessment for the state Department of Education. Wilson said she believes the emphasis on providing more individual help to struggling high school students who need to pass the High School Assessments also has resulted in a declining dropout rate.

The dropout figures released Tuesday do not include those seniors who did not graduate as a result of the HSA requirements and won't return to school this month. Wilson said the figures on how many students failed to graduate because of the HSAs will be released in September.

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