At Current Pace, Schools will Lose Many More Generations of Students
Texas Public School Attrition Study, 2007-08, Released by IDRA

“The bottom line is: schools are responsible for the education of children – for all children,” says IDRA president

San Antonio
(October 21, 2008) –
Texas schools are losing one student every four minutes – that’s one-third of our students. The Intercultural Development Research Association released detailed findings today from its latest study showing that the high school attrition rate is 33 percent, the same as it was 22 years ago. In
Texas for 2007-08, 44 percent of Hispanic students, 38 percent of Black students, and 18 percent of White students were lost from public school enrollment.

A supplemental analysis indicates that, based on one statistical scenario of Texas
attrition rate history, the state will not reach an attrition rate of zero until 2044. At this pace, the state will lose an additional 2.6 million students.

Directed by Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA releases its annual attrition study in the October issue of its newsletter, which became available today online at Attrition rates are an indicator of a school’s holding power, or ability to keep students enrolled in school and learning until they graduate. IDRA has used the same methodology since its inaugural statewide study in 1986. IDRA conducted
Texas ’ first-ever comprehensive statewide study of high school dropouts using a high school attrition formula to estimate the number and percent of students who leave school prior to graduation. The study in 1986 was the state’s first major effort to assess the school holding power of
Texas public schools.

The annual attrition studies since then include county-level data by race and ethnicity. Trend graphs of high school attrition in each Texas
county are available online.

IDRA research shows that between 1985-86 and 2007-08, more than 2.8 million secondary students have been lost from public school enrollment in the state.

“It is high time that Texas
take a new course,” said Dr. Robledo Montecel. “Investment in change must go beyond discrete dropout prevention programs. It must reflect our full commitment to providing for quality public schools in all neighborhoods for children of all backgrounds.”

A school with a high dropout rate must make a concerted effort to reconfigure part or most of its structure and practices to ensure that it meets these three goals: (1) strengthen relationships among students, school staff and families; (2) improve teaching and learning in every classroom every day; and (3) if necessary, reallocate budget, staff and time to achieve goals one and two that lead to increased student achievement and graduation rates.

IDRA’s Quality School Action Framework shows how communities and schools can work together to identify weak areas and strengthen public schools’ capacities to improve the holding power of schools.

IDRA also has developed a set of principles for policymakers and school leaders. IDRA’s online School Holding Power web portal helps community and school partners examine their school data and plan joint action to improve school holding power. The portal can be accessed free at

The main IDRA web site also lists vital components for successful dropout prevention based on a review of research and IDRA’s 25 years of experience with its highly-successful dropout prevention program, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program.


Latest statewide and county level attrition study

Forecast analysis

Look up attrition rates your county

Quality Schools Action Framework

School Holding Power Policy Principles

Ideas and Strategies for Action

Speech with recommendations, “Graduation for All – A Framework for Policy and Action”

School Holding Power portal (high school level information)

Classnotes Podcast: “Action for School Change”

Graduation for All E-letter (English/Spanish)

Frequently Asked Questions

See for related articles and studies.

Contact: Christie L. Goodman , APR, at IDRA, 210-444-1710;