Dropout rates: Fewer students dropped out of Denver schools last year than did five years ago

Categories: Education

Good news from Denver Public Schools headquarters: In the past five years, the district's dropout rate has declined 42 percent. In the 2005-06 school year, 11.1 percent of students dropped out. In the 2009-10 school year, 6.4 percent of students dropped out. In real numbers, that means an estimated 1,700 more students stayed in school last year than did in 2005-06.

All those numbers are courtesy of the Colorado Department of Education, which collects the data and then produces copious spreadsheets laying it all out. We'll spare you the headache of looking through them in favor of this chart, provided by DPS:

2005-06: 4,017 of 36,217 students dropped out, an 11.1% dropout rate

2006-07: 3,649 of 35,126 students dropped out, a 10.4% dropout rate

2007-08: 2,591 of 34,705 students dropped out, a 7.5% dropout rate

2008-09: 2,647 of 35,715 students dropped out, a 7.4% dropout rate

2009-10: 2,326 of 36,146 students dropped out, a 6.4% dropout rate

In announcing the numbers, Superintendent Tom Boasberg stressed that a big part of the district's dropout prevention strategy going forward will center on its Multiple Pathway Centers, described as schools "tailored to meet the needs of students who have had difficulty connecting successfully to educational pathways in the traditional settings."

The district currently has one: Summit Academy in southwest Denver. This fall, the district plans to open two more: Vista Academy in far northeast Denver and the Denver Center for 21st Century Learning in central Denver.

Boasberg also highlighted several schools whose individual dropout rates declined more than 70 percent. Among them: John F. Kennedy High School, whose rate went from 5.6 percent in 2005-06 to 1.2 percent in 2009-10; East High School, whose rate went from 5.3 to 1.4 percent; and South High School, whose rate went from 8.8 to 2.6 percent.

In real numbers, those percentages look like this:

John F. Kennedy High School

2005-06: 115 dropouts out of 2,051 students
2009-10: 23 dropouts out of 1,960 students

East High School

2005-05: 143 dropouts out of 2,674 students
2009-10: 44 dropouts out of 3,209 students

South High School

2005-06: 170 dropouts out of 1,937 students
2009-10: 61 dropouts out of 2,373 students

"We are pleased to see such a large reduction in our dropout rate," Boasberg said in a press release. "Nevertheless, we have much work to do to reduce this dropout rate far more."

He made similar remarks last month when discussing the district's graduation rate. Last year, 51.8 percent of DPS students graduated "on time," meaning they graduated four years after enrolling as freshmen.

More from our Education archives: "Nate Easley recall: Anonymous ColoradoPols blogger who wrote about it publicly outed."

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Matthew Bull
Matthew Bull

Glad to see that the dropout rate has decreased! Amazing effort from amazing people. Great job!


Oops -- please excuse my rant. The article is not about graduation rates, much. I am all in favor of students being better accomodated and retained in high school rather than drop out. I think more differentiation between vocational and academic preparation in high school makes sense, but there's not much maneuvering room in the present system, which is graduating some kids who are essentially innumerate.


Great! Here is yet another article about graduation rates which ignores the fact that approximately one-third (1/3) of Colorado graduates who go to college are not ready to take introductory courseword in math or English. We've got a thing going on here called the Colorado Paradox -- the highest number of college degrees (but many of them are in education or marketing) per capita of any state, but a graduation rate of our own students from college in the lowest quarter of all states. I believe in public funding of education and in the collective bargaining rights of public employees, but it is pointless to trumpet higher graduation rates without addressing the fact that one third of (presumably the best) students have not earned their diplomas -- if a third of college-bound students have not mastered high school math or English, it strongly suggests that the rate of incompetence among all graduates exceeds that. In order to make a diploma from DPS signify something something more than attendance, graduation rates should be cut, in half if necessary. The school system has the most powerful of all incentives to retain students, i.e. money, but it lacks integrity.

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