Cost of School Dropouts Escalates

San Antonio (November 9, 2004) – Texas schools are failing to graduate two of every five students. The Intercultural Development Research Association released detailed findings today from its latest study showing that the high school attrition rate is 36 percent. In Texas for 2003-04, 49 percent of Hispanic students, 44 percent of Black students, and 22 percent of White students were lost from public school enrollment.

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.

“This gives us a grim long-term picture of a consistent problem that has not been effectively addressed,” said Dr. Montecel. “In fact, 18 years later, attrition rates are higher than the original rate of 33 percent that alarmed many state and community leaders in 1986.”

IDRA research shows that between 1985-86 and 2003-04, more than 2 million secondary students have been lost from public school enrollment in the state. On average, nearly 121,000 students do not graduate each year, costing the state over $500 billion in foregone income, lost tax revenues, and increased job training, welfare, unemployment and criminal justice costs. “The cost in economic productivity is dwarfed by the cost in life choices for so many Texans,” Dr. Montecel added.

IDRA has repeatedly called for changes so that schools are held accountable based on the number of students they are graduating. The report discusses the concept of school holding power: the schools’ ability to keep students in school and learning until graduation. The IDRA web site lists vital components for successful dropout prevention based on a review of research and IDRA’s 20 years of experience with its highly-successful dropout prevention program, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program.

Visit to view the report, attrition by county and background information.

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

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.