Index: Education / Subcategory: K-12

Dropout Rates

Date updated: 05/31/2013

According to Andrew Sum (The Consequences of Dropping Out of School, 2009 - pdf), the average high school dropout will cost taxpayers over $292,000 in lower tax revenues, higher cash and in-kind transfer costs, and imposed incarceration costs relative to an average high school graduate. There were 338 dropouts in Larimer County during the 2011-12 school year, which could end up costing the county close to $99 million.

By Colorado law, a dropout is a juvenile who leaves school before the completion of a high school diploma or equivalent. A student who transfers to another public, private, or home school program is not considered a dropout. Additionally, a student is not a dropout if he/she:

Dropout data reflects the entire student population from grades 7 through 12.

During the 2003-04 school year, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) began collecting year-end data based on each student using the State Assigned Student Identifiers (SASID) system. The new system eliminates errors such as double counting students who dropped out and later re-enrolled. Please see Additional Information for further discussion of graduation rates and the SASID system.

Beginning in 2005, Colorado law required school districts to obtain proof of transfer for students who transferred to schools in another state or country, to a private school, or who began a home-based education program. If such documentation was not received, the student must be counted as a dropout. The CDE conservatively estimates that prior to 2005, 10% of students leaving school were erroneously counted as transfers.

What this chart shows: Dropout Rates in Colorado & Larimer County School Districts, 2006-07 to 2011-12

Data Source: Colorado Department of Education

See data table

What the above data tell us:

Since 2006-07, all Larimer County school districts had lower dropout rates than the Colorado average and, with the exception of Park School District in Estes Park, the overall trend for high school dropouts has been declining.

Park School District class sizes are small, thereby showing a larger change in percentage if one or two students drop out of school. For example, in 2011-12, 9 students dropped out of Park School District producing a dropout rate of 1.5%. Poudre School District would need roughly 199 students to drop out of school to create a similar dropout rate.

Data prior to 2006-07 are not presented because in 2003-04 all districts and the state showed a marked increase in rates due to the implementation of the SASID system. According to Poudre School District officials, prior to the implementation of the SASID system, students who dropped out during the summer months weren't included in the dropout statistics, creating lower rates. In an effort to correct for these inaccuracies, summer dropouts were inadvertently double counted in 2003-04 and 2004-05, which artificially raised the dropout rates for those two years.

NOTE: In May 2009, Governor Bill Ritter signed H.B. 09-1243 into law. The purpose of this legislation was to reduce the dropout rate and increase the graduation/completion rates in Colorado. See the Colorado Department of Education's March 2010 report, Dropout Prevention and Student Re-Engagement [pdf], for more information.

What this chart shows: Dropout Rates in Larimer County by Grade Level, 2011-12

Data Source: Colorado Department of Education

See data table

What the above data tell us:

The largest percentage increase in dropout rates for the 2011-12 school year occurred between 7th and 8th grades (300%).

What this chart shows: Dropout Rates in Colorado & Larimer County by Race/Ethnicity, 2011-12

Data Source: Colorado Department of Education

See data table

What the above data tell us:

Hispanic students comprised 25% of the student population in Larimer County school districts in 2011-12. However, in the same year, 35% of students dropping out of school were Hispanic (119 Hispanic dropouts out of 338 total dropouts).

As mentioned above, smaller class sizes causes dropout rates to fluctuate more widely than those based on larger class sizes. Native American, Asian, and Black students are underrepresented in Larimer County student populations when compared to Hispanic and White students (see data table for rates).

Additional Information:

The State Assigned Student Identifiers (SASID) system of tracking individual students (instead of using aggregate numbers) produces more accurate accounting of students' progress through the school system. This method allows the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to do post-collection (student count) follow-up on individual students. This process allows districts to properly adjust student exit status by reclassifying students who have been misidentified as dropouts, expulsions, or transfers. The result is a true account of students and their achievement from eighth through twelfth grade. For example, 2004 dropout rates for Colorado originally counted 11,302 students. After post collection follow-up, 3,619 additional students were determined to be dropouts. In addition, 27,846 students were documented as transferring to another district in the original count, but 9,504 of these students were not reported as enrolled in any other districts prior to the end of the school year. The SASID system eliminates these errors. The majority of these students were reclassified as dropouts after the CDE contacted the districts and the districts conducted further investigation. Some of these students transferred out of state, to private school or entered into home schooling situations.

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Other Resources -

Dropout Numbers/Rates - Larimer County School Districts & Colorado

Colorado

Number

Dropout Rate

2006-07

18,027

4.4

2007-08

15,524

3.8

2008-09

14,975

3.6

2009-10

13,147

3.1

2010-11

12,744

3.0

2011-12

12,256

2.9

Poudre

Number

Dropout Rate

2006-07

337

2.5

2007-08

347

2.6

2008-09

221

1.7

2009-10

153

1.2

2010-11

175

1.3

2011-12

191

1.4

Thompson

Number

Dropout Rate

2006-07

243

3.0

2007-08

245

3.0

2008-09

211

2.6

2009-10

152

1.9

2010-11

160

2.1

2011-12

138

1.8

Park

Number

Dropout Rate

2006-07

6

0.9

2007-08

9

1.3

2008-09

9

1.3

2009-10

9

1.3

2010-11

11

1.8

2011-12

9

1.5

See chart

Dropouts by Grade Level in Larimer County - 2011-12

Grade Level

Dropout Rate

# of Dropouts

7th grade

0.1%

2

8th grade

0.4%

13

9th grade

1.4%

53

10th grade

1.5%

53

11th grade

1.9%

69

12th grade

4.0%

148

Total

-----

338

See chart

Dropouts by Race/Ethnicity, Colorado & Larimer County School Districts - 2011-12

Race/Ethnicity

Colorado

Poudre

Thompson

Park

American Indian

5.3

4.9

1.6

0.0

Asian

1.6

1.2

0.0

0.0

Black

4.6

2.0

2.9

0.0

Hispanic

5.4

3.6

2.9

3.6

White

2.0

0.9

1.6

0.9

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See chart