“With the magnitude of this loss, what is needed is a seismic shift from dropout prevention to graduation for all; and all must mean all,” says IDRA president & CEO 

San Antonio (May 22, 2008) – Eight of 20 regions in Texas have higher high school attrition rates than they did 22 years ago. Overall, Texas schools are losing one-third of their students. The Intercultural Development Research Association released detailed findings today showing that eight Texas regions have persistently high rates of losing students from public school enrollment. In 2006-07, attrition rates ranged from a low of 20 percent in ESC Region 17 (Lubbock) to a high of 46 percent in ESC Region 1 (Edinburg), compared to the state average of 34 percent.

Eight of the 20 service center regions (40 percent) had lower attrition rates in 2006-07 than in 1985-86, and four (20 percent) had rates that remained unchanged.

In early April, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings called for consistent formulas for states to calculate the number of students who graduate from high school on time. IDRA has been releasing attrition data each year for Texas schools using the same methodology since its inaugural statewide study in 1986, making year-to-year comparisons meaningful.

Directed by Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA is now releasing attrition data at the Texas regional level based on Texas education service center regions. Trend graphs of high school attrition in each Texas county and region are available online.

IDRA research shows that between 1985-86 and 2006-07, more than 2.6 million secondary students have been lost from public school enrollment in the state. Other key findings from the regional study include:

  • Education service center (ESC) regions with traditionally high attrition rates include: ESC Region 1 (Edinburg), ESC Region 4 (Houston), ESC Region 10 (Richardson), ESC Region 13 (Austin), ESC Region 19 (El Paso), and ESC Region 20 (San Antonio).
  • The total number of students lost from public high school public enrollment has increased from 86,272 in 1985-86 to 134,646 in 2006-07.
  • Statewide, the attrition rates of Hispanic students and Black students have either remained unchanged or have worsened since 1985-86

“We must move from a low and archaic expectation that only some of our country’s students can successfully graduate from high school to a guarantee that all of our students will graduate,” said Dr. Robledo Montecel.

“Since this problem is systemic, the solutions must address schools as systems,” she added. IDRA’s Quality School Action Framework shows how communities and schools can work together to strengthen public schools’ capacities to improve the holding power of schools.

To turn things around, schools and communities in Texas and around the country are looking to new ways to understand the obstacles to school success and to work together to address them. For example, IDRA and Texas education service centers have been collaborating to present a series of interactive video conferences for parents and parent educators on working with schools to improve education of all students.

The main IDRA web site lists vital components for successful dropout prevention based on a review of research and IDRA’s 22 years of experience with its highly-successful dropout prevention program, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program.

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 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. IDRA’s annual attrition studies since then include county-level data by race and ethnicity.

Visit http://www.idra.org/Press_Room/ to view the report, attrition by county and region, and background information.

See http://del.icio.us/IDRA for related articles and studies.

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

IDRA is an independent, private non-profit organization, directed by María Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., dedicated to creating schools that 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.