Texas Public School Attrition Study, 2011-12
San Antonio (October 30, 2012) – The Texas high school attrition rate is below 30 percent for the third year in a row, with 26 percent of the freshman class of 2008-09 having left school prior to graduating in the 2011-12 school year.

“It is certainly encouraging to see some improvement,” said Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA president and CEO. “IDRA’s analyses show that, at the current rate of attrition, though, Texas will not reach universal high school education for another quarter of a century in 2037.
Texas public schools are failing to graduate one out of every four students – or 12 students per hour. Texas can and must do better.”

The Intercultural Development Research Association released detailed findings today from its latest study. Key findings show:

  • The statewide attrition rate was 26 percent for 2011-12.
  • Twelve students per hour leave before graduating high school.
  • At this rate, Texas will not reach universal high school education for another quarter of a century in 2037.
  • Numerically, 103,140 students were lost from our public high schools in 2011-12.
  • The racial-ethnic gaps are dramatically higher than 27 years ago. The gap between the attrition rates of White students and Black students has doubled from 7 percentage points to 14. The gap between the rates of White students and Hispanic students has increased from 18 percentage points to 21.
  • Black students and Hispanic students are about two times more likely to leave school without graduating with a diploma than White students.
  • Students from ethnic minority groups account for nearly three-fourths (72.2 percent) of the estimated 3.2 million students lost from public high school enrollment.

“Students are far more likely to succeed and graduate when they have the chance to work with highly qualified, committed teachers; when they are using effective, accessible curricula; when their parents and communities are engaged in their schools and learning; and when they themselves feel engaged,” said Dr. Robledo Montecel.

“The good news is that when it comes to transforming education, we don’t need to take wild guesses: educators are already showing what works,” added Dr. Robledo Montecel. “If you look at all of the best, high-impact innovations – none involve stop-gap, slap-dash or silver bullet solutions. Rather, they all have demonstrated a set of key features: they value youth of all backgrounds, without exception; they are built around sound information and metrics; they engage families and community members as key partners in academic success; and they assure that students have access to quality teaching and a high quality curriculum.”

IDRA’s Quality School Action Framework™ guides communities and schools in identifying weak areas and strengthening public schools’ capacities to graduate and prepare all students for success. IDRA’s book, Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework™ shows how communities and schools can work together to be successful with all of their students. The book’s web page (http://www.idra.org/couragetoconnect) provides an excerpt, related podcasts, images of the framework and other resources.

Each fall, IDRA releases its attrition study. The latest study became available today online. Attrition rates are an indicator of a school’s holding power, or the ability to keep students enrolled in school and learning until they graduate. IDRA was commissioned to conduct
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. That study in 1986 was the state’s first major effort to assess the school holding power of Texas public schools and resulted in state-level policy reforms for the state education agency to count and report dropout data. IDRA is the only organization that has examined Texas attrition rates consistently, with the same methodology, for 27 years.

The annual attrition studies released by IDRA include county-level data by race and ethnicity. Trend graphs of high school attrition in each

county are available online. The study includes detailed findings, a supplemental analysis for reaching a rate of zero and graphics showing different types of dropout data. IDRA’s study also looks at the latest dropout study released by the Texas Education Agency. 

In addition, IDRA has developed a one-page School Holding Power Checklist with a set of criteria for assessing and selecting effective dropout prevention strategies and for making sure your school is a quality school.

Following the Texas legislature’s adoption of substantial cuts to public education using inequitable mechanisms that have increased funding disparities across Texas school districts, IDRA has launched an initiative to help communities across the state as they take action to make sure that schools are equipped to guarantee that all children graduate ready for college and career. More information about Fair Funding Now! Excellent Schools for All Texas Students is online at www.idra.org.

Media Contact: Christie L. Goodman, APR, at IDRA, 210-444-1710; christie.goodman@idra.org

IDRA Attrition Study & Resources Online

2012 Study – Texas Public School Attrition Study, 2011-12

Look Up Your County – See attrition rates and numbers over the last 10 years

See infographic: Texas public schools are losing one out of four students (Sharable web graphic, png)

Frequently Asked Questions for reporters

eBook on types of dropout data

Listing of other dropout and graduation studies

Tool – Quality School Holding Power Checklist

OurSchool data portal – see district- and high school-level data

Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework

Overview of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, which keeps 98 percent of students in school

Ideas and Strategies for Action

Set of principles for policymakers and school leaders

Classnotes Podcast: “Counting Dropouts”

Graduation for All E-letter (English/Spanish)

See www.delicious.com/IDRA for related articles and studies (keyword: dropouts)

IDRA is an independent, private non-profit organization, directed by María Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., dedicated to strengthening public schools to work for all children. As a vanguard leadership development and research team for more than three decades, IDRA has worked with people to create self-renewing schools that value and empower all children, families and communities. IDRA conducts research and development activities, creates, implements and administers innovative education programs and provides teacher, administrator, and parent training and technical assistance.