“What will happen next as students face the effects of the state’s disinvestment in education? What will happen next as the state returns to student tracking? Texas cannot compete in the global marketplace if we do not get serious about creating top quality schooling for all students.” – Dr. Robledo Montecel, IDRA president

San Antonio (November 30, 2011) – The Texas high school attrition rate is below 30 percent for the second year in a row, with 27 percent of the freshman class of 2007-08 having left school prior to graduating in the 2010-11 school year. Yet, this means Texas public schools are failing to graduate one out of every four students.

“Seeing the state’s attrition going down is encouraging,” said Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA president and CEO. “And we have witnessed some exciting initiatives by schools and entire districts that are producing results.”

“Still, Texas high schools have lost 3.1 million students in the last 26 years. So, we are concerned that – at this pace – we could lose as many as 2.8 million more students over the next 25 years,” said Dr. Robledo Montecel.

“Even more troubling is what will likely happen next with the state’s return to tracking many students into weak courses and with the state’s disinvestment in education that is forcing schools to cut vital teachers and programs,” added Dr. Robledo Montecel.

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

  • The statewide attrition rate was 27 percent for 2010-11.
  • Thirteen 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, 110,804 students were lost from our public high schools in 2010-11.
  • The racial-ethnic gaps are dramatically higher than 26 years ago. The gap between the attrition rates of White students and Black students has increased from 7 percentage points to 16. The gap between the rates of White students and Hispanic students has increased from 18 percentage points to 23.
  • Black students and Hispanic students are about two times more likely to leave school without graduating with a diploma than White students.

“Our research and decades of experience show clearly that students are far more likely to succeed and graduate when they have the chance to work with highly qualified, committed teachers, using effective, accessible curricula, when schools partner with parents and communities, and when students themselves feel engaged,” said Dr. Robledo Montecel.

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 26 years.

The annual attrition studies released by IDRA include county-level data by race and ethnicity. Trend graphs of high school attrition in each
Texas county are available online.
The study includes detailed findings and the supplemental analysis for reaching a rate of zero. The study also looks at the latest dropout studies released by the Texas Education Agency and the National Center for Education Statistics. 

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.

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 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

2011 Study – Texas Public School Attrition Study, 2009-10

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

Frequently Asked Questions for reporters

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.