Statewide Rate Returns to 24% After One Year Bump

32st Annual Texas Public School Attrition Study Released by IDRA

San Antonio (October 31, 2017) – The Pew Research Center reported earlier this month that the high school dropout rate among Hispanic students has shrunk to a new low, continuing a downward trend over the last two decades. Similarly, IDRA’s analyses found that the Texas attrition rate of 29 percent for Hispanic students is below 30 percent for the first time in three decades. In 1985-86, when IDRA’s attrition studies began, the rate for Hispanic students was 45 percent going as high as 54 percent after that year.

“At 24 percent statewide for all student groups, our high schools are losing one-fourth of their students. It isn’t the fact that Texas attrition went down to 24 this year that’s important; it’s the fact that the number never goes below 24 percent,” said Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA president and CEO. “Also, 29 percent is high for any student group, but especially for the largest group in the state – Hispanic students. We need to do more than try harder or tweak. Texas has to be serious about investing and being strategic. Since this problem is systemic, the solutions must be as well.

The Intercultural Development Research Association released detailed findings today from its latest study – which examines time series data. Key findings show:

  • Texas is failing to graduate one out of every four students – which translates to losing 11 students per hour. The statewide attrition rate is 24 percent (down from 25 percent last year).
  • Texas high schools lost 99,960 students in 2016-17.
  • At this rate, Texas will not reach universal high school education for another two decades in 2037.
  • Black students and Hispanic students are about two times more likely to leave school without graduating with a diploma than White students.
  • In the last 32 years, Texas schools have lost a cumulative total of more than 3.7 million students from public high school enrollment prior to graduation.

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.

IDRA released a report, College Bound and Determined, in February 2014 showing how one south Texas school district transformed itself from low achievement and low expectations to planning for all students to graduate from high school and college. The result was a school district that doubled its number of high school graduates, cut dropout rates in half and increased college-going rates. Half of the district’s students are earning college credit while still in high school.

Each fall, IDRA releases its attrition study. The latest study became available today online at 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 32 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, a supplemental analysis for reaching a rate of zero and graphics showing different types of dropout data.

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

IDRA Attrition Study & Resources Online

2016 Study (PDF) – Texas Public School Attrition Study, 2016-17

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

County List – See which counties had attrition rates go up or down

Infographic: Texas public schools are losing one out of four students

eBook on types of dropout data

College Bound and Determined – A report profiling what happens when a school district raises expectations for students instead of lowering them

Checklist Tool – Quality School Holding Power Checklist

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”