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The High Cost of Dropping Out: How Many? How Come? How Much?

Susan Notes: Although I wish they had used the correct term--pushout--this report performs an important service, providing an overview of how the "dropout rate" is measured in Texas, as well as data on who is dropping out and why. They also examine the costs and benefits of keeping "dropouts" in school.

The group producing this report is headed by the former judge Scott McCown who penned a major school finance decision and their ed/tax lobbyist, Dick Lavine, was dubbed by Texas Monthly as "best lobbyist for the little guy."

NOTE: You get a better read of charts & such at the pdf url below. I post the article here just to make you aware it exists.



Every May, hundreds of thousands of Texas high school seniors don caps
and gowns to celebrate an academic rite of passage: high school graduation.
Texasʼ youth face a rapidly changing world, one increasingly dependent
upon education as the cornerstone for economic success. Without the skills
to succeed in our new economy, students who leave without a diploma face a
lifetime of limited opportunities and low earnings.1

The variety of ways that the dropout rate is calculated has generated
controversy over the last several years, both in Texas and the United
States. Using the most recent data available, we provide an overview
of how the dropout rate is measured in Texas, as well as data on who
is dropping out and why. We also examine the costs and benefits
of keeping dropouts in school.

Measuring the Dropout Rate
According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Texasʼ
graduation rate was 84.6% for the Class of 2004.2 However, TEA
and two other education data groups provided five additional
statistics for students who did not graduate that academic year in
Texas: 1) the annual dropout rate; 2) the four-year longitudinal
rate; 3) "other" leavers; 4) the attrition rate; and 5) the status
dropout rate. With so many different calculations, it is easy to
see why there is confusion about how many Texas students never
receive a diploma. While the lack of a common calculation might
be confusing, no single calculation tells the whole story. Each
says something different but important.
Why So Many Calculations?
Each calculation provides additional insight into the dropout
problem, allowing us to examine not only who drops out, but when
and why. The more data we have, the better our understanding of
who is succeeding and who is failing in Texasʼ public schools.

Despite its limitations, we have chosen to use TEAʼs four-year
longitudinal dropout rate to discuss dropouts in the remainder of
this report, unless otherwise specified. Without discounting the
value of the other measurement methods, we believe the four-year
longitudinal measure provides an adequate picture of the students
in a class who have specifically "dropped out" over time without
including students who may have gone to private school, graduated
early, or received a GED.

With every measurement since 1996 showing a decrease in the
dropout rate, it is a positive indication that Texas is heading in
the right direction. Yet, there is no room for complacency--tens
of thousands of students continue to fall through the cracks. Once
students leave, they are less likely to be economically successful.

The High Cost of Dropping Out:
How Many? How Come? How Much?
Measurement Primary Definition
Organization/Agency
Annual Dropout Rate3 TEA Percentage of students who drop out
of school during one school year
Four-Year Longitudinal TEA Percentage of students from a class of 9th
Dropout Rate4 graders who drop out before completing
high school
"Other" Leavers5 TEA Students who leave a school district for
reasons other than graduation, continuing
high school, or dropping out
Attrition Rate6 IDRA Percentage of students from a class of 9th
graders not enrolled in 12th grade four
school years later
Status Rate7 Census Bureau Percentage of 16 -19 year olds not
enrolled in high school and who lack a
high school diploma or its equivalent
Methods for Measuring the Number of Students Without High School Diplomas
Note: Complete definitions are located on page 7.
No Matter How It's Measured, the Texas Dropout
Rate Has Declined Since the Mid-1990s
Percent of Relevant Population
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
45%
40%
35%
30%
25%
20%
15%
10%
5%
0
IDRA Attrition Rate
Census Status Rate
TEA Four-year
Longitudinal Rate
TEA Annual Rate
42.0%
12.1%
3.9%
2.5%
1.8%
1.2%
7.2%
40.0%
14.0%
9.3%
36.0%
Even with the recent
improvements, Texas
still ranks among the
15 worst states in
the country for kids
leaving school without
a high school diploma,
regardless of how
the dropout rate is
measured.

2005 KIDS COUNT Data Book, Annie E.
Casey Foundation; "Leaving Boys Behind:
Public High School Graduation Rates," 2006
Report from the Manhattan Institute.
Graduation Gaps Instead of Graduation Caps
According to TEAʼs four-year longitudinal dropout rate, of the 270,911 students who began
9th grade in Texas in Fall 2000, 3.9% (or 10,507 students) had dropped out by Spring 2004.

However, not all students are dropping out of high school at the same rate. Certain racial/
ethnic groups, males, and students who live in urban or suburban areas have the highest
dropout rates. For example, 3.7% of African Americans who were freshmen in 2000-2001
dropped out before graduating, compared to only 1.9% of White students. Hispanics fared
far worse: 6.3% of Hispanics dropped out of high school between 9th and 12th grades.

Hispanics and African Americans are overrepresented in dropout rates as compared to their
representation in the total student population.
A study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center offers a perspective on why Hispanics may
be dropping out at a higher rate than other student groups. Research has shown that larger
school environments are linked to lower student achievement and higher dropout rates, and
the effects are worsened when a large percent of the student population is low-income.8

The high schools Hispanics typically attend in the United States are larger on average than
those attended by non-Hispanic students. More than 56% of Hispanic students attend high
schools with more than 1,838 students, compared to 32% of Blacks and 26% of Whites.9

This can place Hispanics at a greater risk for dropping out than other racial/ethnic groups.
In Texas, the dropout rates of special student groups highlight the fact that some students
are more at risk of dropping out than others. For example, immigrant and Limited English
Proficiency (LEP) populations are at a higher risk of dropping out than the average student.
These special student groups, including the economically disadvantaged, require more
specialized support from school communities, making it easier for them to slip through
the cracks. Schools have a responsibility not only to provide adequate resources for these
students, but also to create a welcoming environment for individuals who require additional
assistance to achieve in the Texas public school system.

Minorities are Overrepresented in the Dropout Population
African
American
Other Hispanic White
60%
40%
20%
0
Percentage of 2004 Class
Percentage of Dropouts
13.8%
17.6%
36.3%
58.6%
46.5%
22.2%
3.5%
1.7%
Source: Texas Education Agency, Class of 2004 Four-year Longitudinal Dropout Rates
Four-Year Longitudinal Dropout Rates
for Special Student Groups, Class of 200410
Special
Education
Bilingual/ESL Economically
Disadvantaged
Immigrant State Average
20%
15%
10%
5%
0
6.3% 5.9%
16.7%
3.9%
17.7%
Source: Texas Education Agency, Class of 2004 Four-year Longitudinal Rates
Percent of Each Special Population
2
3

The graduation gap also exists between males and females; in Fall 2004, the longitudinal
dropout rate was 4.3% for males and 3.4% for females.11 Females have had consistently
lower dropout rates in comparison to males since TEA began reporting the data in the late
1980s. TEA reports that a higher percentage of males than females are retained a grade,
and grade retention has been linked to higher dropout rates.12 More research is needed to
accurately assess why males do not fare as well as females in school.

Students living in Texasʼ urban and large suburban13 areas drop out at higher rates than
the rest of the state. Students living in rural counties are the least likely to drop out. This
phenomena also may be related to school size,14 as the average number of students in
Texasʼ high schools increases dramatically as the counties become more urban. The average
number of students in high schools in rural counties is 158; small suburban counties, 288;
large suburban counties, 498; and urban counties, 951. To assess how students in your
county are faring, go to the county-by-county supplement to this report at www.cppp.org/
kidscount.15

Predictors of Dropping Out
Many studies indicate that dropping out of school is not a sudden decision, but a gradual
process where the student slowly becomes disengaged from academic life. The process
of dropping out of school begins months or even years before the student stops attending
school altogether. The clearest warning sign for most students at risk of dropping out is
persistent absenteeism. A study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that other
dropout warning signs include low grades, behavior problems, lack of school involvement,
pregnancy, grade retention, transfers, and difficulty transitioning to 9th grade. The amount
of parental involvement and communication between home and school also play large roles
in determining whether a student will drop out of school.16

In addition, new regulations found in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act may have
inadvertently established negative incentives for schools to "push out" low performing
students. Under NCLB, schools are judged not only by Adequate Yearly Progress (as
defined by TEA) of the schoolʼs average student, but also by their lowest performing
group of students. On the one hand, such a policy encourages schools to focus on their
most vulnerable students. However, it can also encourage schools to push out their low
performers in order to raise campus test scores. The growing trend of school accountability
will undoubtedly have an effect, for better or worse, on how school districts approach the
issue of reducing school dropouts.
The Texas Education Agency reports that the most common reasons for dropping out
include academic performance, pursuit of a job, and aging out of the system.17 A separate
Students Living in Counties with Small
Populations are Less Likely to Drop Out
Rural Small
Suburban
Large
Suburban
Urban
4%
3%
2%
1%
0
.2%
3.9%
4.0%
2.1%

Percentage of Class of 2004
Source: Texas Education Agency, Class of 2004 Four-year Longitudinal Dropout Data by County Size
Dropout Rates Are Higher in Metropolitan
Counties than the State Average
Bexar Dallas El Paso Harris Tarrant Travis State
6%
5%
4%
3%
2%
1%
0%
4.7%
5.4%
5.0%
4.0%
4.5%
3.9%
4.3%
Source: Texas KIDS COUNT Project, Center for Public Policy Priorities, 2005; TEA Class of 2004 Four-year Longitudinal Dropout Rates.
Percentage of Class of 2004
3
4
study conducted for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focused on the individual
perspectives of more than 450 dropouts to determine why they dropped out, and what their
lives have been like since leaving high school. According to the report, the top five reasons
identified as major factors for leaving school are:18
1. Classes were not interesting (47%).
2. Missed too many days and could not catch up (43%).
3. Spent time with people who were not interested in school (42%).
4. Had too much freedom and not enough rules in my life (38%).
5. Was failing in school (35%).

Turning the Tide
Although the number of children not receiving a diploma in the Texas public school system
is still much too high, the tide is beginning to turn. Every measurement since 1996 has
shown a decrease in the dropout rate, regardless of how it is measured. Still, thousands of
students continue to be lost by the public school system. The big question remains: what
can we do not only to keep students in school, but also to ensure that students are leaving
with a degree?

The Texas Education Code requires TEA to develop a dropout plan that includes systematic
and measurable goals. The six broadly defined goals put forward by TEA for 2002 through
2014 are as follows:32

All students will graduate from high school by 2013-2014.
TEA will develop a comprehensive dropout prevention action plan by
2002-03 that will be regularly updated.
A Dropout Prevention Center will be created by 2002-2003.
All students will be taught by highly qualified teachers.
The statewide annual dropout rate for Grades 7-8 will be reduced to under
1%, and the statewide completion rate for Grades 9-12 will be increased to
85% by 2006-07.
All students will reach high standards by attaining proficiency or better in
reading and mathematics by 2013-14.

To help reach these goals, districts and organizations across the state have introduced
specific dropout prevention programs. Many state and national initiatives, such as the Coca-
Cola Valued Youth Program and Project GRAD, have made a difference in the lives of
at-risk students by increasing their academic and social skills, building self-discipline, and
offering college scholarship support.
But what would it mean if all students actually did graduate from high school? How much
would this cost our public education system? And what are the potential economic benefits
to our economy?

The Cost of Keeping Dropouts in School
The Texas Education Agency has a commendable goal of ensuring that all students graduate
from high school. However, more students in school means increased expenses, putting
a financial burden on an already strapped funding system that cannot cover such basic
expenses as textbooks, building maintenance, and adequate teacher pay. To estimate these
additional expenses, we examine the Class of 2004 in closer financial detail.
Lost in the Shuffle:

Students in Foster Care
In August 2005, over 19,000 children
were in foster care in Texas, and
approximately 62% of these children
were school age.19,20 Children in foster
care face a multitude of hardships
that directly affect their educational
outcomes, including a higher
probability of dropping out.21,22
The average foster-care child who
emancipated23 from long-term care
in 2005 lived with an average of just
under nine families.24 Research has
shown that high rates of mobility
among homes and schools make it
difficult for students to transfer grades
and receive credit for previously taken
classes.25,26 These problems can lead
a student to be held back, which in
turn makes him less likely to complete
high school.27

Research shows that foster youth are
much less likely to have a high school
diploma than their non-foster peers.
Within one to four years of leaving
the foster care system, 32 to 55% of
former foster youth did not have a
high school diploma.28 These findings
apply even when accounting for the
students' race/ethnicity, academic
ability, and school transitions.29

The Texas Department of Family
and Protective Services (DFPS)
has made progress in removing
barriers to educational success. The
Preparation for Adult Living (PAL)
program prepares foster children for
their eventual departure from the
foster care system. Its services include
independent skills level training and
support, high school graduation
expenses, counseling, and GED
classes, which were provided to over
6,400 current or former foster youth
ages 16-20 in 2005.30 The state also
has recently mandated the creation
of an "education passport" that will
streamline information transmission
when foster care students transfer
to new schools.31 The DFPS has 12
education specialists to coordinate
services for students in foster care.
However, with the education
passport yet to be implemented and
approximately one education specialist
to 1,000 school age foster children, the
education needs of our foster youth
are still unmet.
5
Of the 10,507 students from the class of 2004 who were officially listed as having dropped
out of high school, 3,354 dropped out while in the 9th grade, 2,896 in 10th, 2,260 in 11th,
and 1,997 while in 12th. Using the median per student operating budget across all public
senior high schools33 to estimate the yearly costs, the Texas public education system would
have spent at least an additional $180 million if all of the dropouts from Fall 2000 to Spring
2004 actually stayed in school and graduated.34,35

The costs increase dramatically when looking at how many kids leave from year to year but
may not be considered official dropouts. Of the 360,857 students who were enrolled in 9th
grade in Fall 2000, 68,505 left between 9th and 10th grade, 26,829 left between 10th and
11th grade, 22,220 left between 11th and 12th grade, and 12,170 left between Fall 2003 and
graduation in Spring 2004. We estimate that Texas spent about $8.6 billion on the students
in the Class of 2004 who actually did stay in the Texas public school system from 9th
through 12th grade.36 If all of the students who were originally enrolled in the 9th grade in
2000-2001 stayed in school and graduated in Spring 2004, the Texas public school system
would have had to spend an additional $1.7 billion dollars, or 25% more than what was
actually spent.37 This is just the additional cost for the Class of 2004.

These are, at best, rough estimates for the potential costs if all students in the Class of
2004 had graduated. As noted above, any method of measuring dropouts has its benefits
and drawbacks (for example, underestimating by excluding students who leave but are
not "official" dropouts versus overestimating by including students who may leave for
legitimate reasons such as moving to a private school). These calculations are no exception.
If anything, we have underestimated the costs as these numbers do not include any capital
costs for building new facilities to house these students if they stayed in the system. Nor do
they include the costs of alternative education or dropout prevention programs that would
certainly be needed to achieve the 100% graduation goal. (If you would like to replicate these
calculations for your district, see the methodology discussions in endnotes 33 through 37.)

The Benefits of Keeping Dropouts in School
Although the short-term costs for educating all students may be daunting, the potential
long-term economic benefits would be substantial. While many dropouts leave school and
find full-time employment,38 the immediate return in income quickly pales in comparison to
what they could earn if they continued their education. In fact, Texas high school dropouts
earned almost $7,500 less in 2004 than their high school graduate counterparts, and about
$26,000 less than college graduates.39 If every 16-19 year old who is not in school and
does not have a high school diploma simply graduated, the stateʼs combined earnings could
increase by over $865 million per year, or about $3 billion in just four years.40 However,
higher incomes are only available if the jobs are available. Businesses tend to be attracted to
areas that have a better educated workforce.41 Therefore, Texas must increase its number of
educated workers.

If every 9th grader in Fall 2000
graduated in Spring 2004, it
would have cost Texas at least an
additional $1.7 billion over
four years.

If every 16-19 year old who is not
in school and does not have a
diploma simply graduated, they
would earn an additional $3 billion
in income in just four years.

But...
Having a Degree Translates to Higher Annual Earnings
No High School
Diploma
$50K
$40K
$30K
$20K
$10K
0
$16,230
High School
Diploma
Bachelor's
Degree
$23,719
$42,361
Source: Median Earnings in Past 12 Months for Texas Population 25 and Over, 2004 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau.
Annual Earnings
5
6
Another economic effect on Texas is dropoutsʼ greater need for government assistance. In
the United States, four out of every 10 young adults (ages 16-24) lacking a high school
diploma received some type of government assistance in 2001. In addition, a dropout is
more than eight times as likely to be incarcerated as a person with at least a high school
diploma, which costs millions of dollars per year.42 Overall, the Intercultural Development
Research Association reports that 2.2 million students have left Texas schools without a
diploma between 1986 and 2005, "costing the state $500 billion in forgone income, tax
revenues, and increased job training, welfare, unemployment and criminal justice costs."43
Whatever the individual or sociological reasons behind a studentʼs decision to drop out, at
least part of the problem may be as simple as the fact that it is impossible to put ten gallons
of water in a five-gallon bucket. High schools do not have the teachers, textbooks, or space
necessary for everyone to graduate. It would take at least an additional $1.7 billion, or 25%
more than is currently spent on 9th through 12th graders, for everyone to stay in school.
This leaves us with the question: How can we afford to keep all kids in school . . . and how
can we not?

The Majority of Texas' Working Poor Families
Have a Parent Who Dropped Out of High School
No parents dropped out At least one parent dropped out
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0
60%
44%
40%
56%
Percent of Working Families
Living Below 100% of Poverty
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U.S.
Texas
7
Definitions of Dropout Measurements
Annual Dropout Rate for Grades 9-12
The Texas Education Agency's annual dropout rate is calculated by dividing the number of public high school44 students who drop out during
the school year by the total number of students enrolled in the Fall of that academic year. During the 2003-2004 school year, 15,160 students
were classified as dropouts out of the 1,252,016 high school students, giving Texas an annual dropout rate of 1.2%.45 The annual dropout rate
is frequently used because it only requires one year of data to calculate, giving a timely snapshot of how many students dropped out in a given
year. The annual rate also produces the lowest dropout measurement TEA employs. However, it masks any problems or trends that a particular
student group or entire grade might have, since it groups all students and grades together.

Longitudinal Dropout Rate
The longitudinal dropout rate is more in line with the general public's understanding of a dropout measurement because it tracks a group of
students throughout their entire high school career. The longitudinal dropout rate is defined by TEA as the percentage of students from a class
of 9th graders who drop out before completing high school. Of the 270,911 students who began 9th grade in fall of 2000, 10,507 students
were classified as dropping out sometime between October 2000 and May 2004, yielding a dropout rate of 3.9%.46 The longitudinal dropout
rate provides a better picture than the annual rate of how a class of students deteriorates due to cumulative dropouts over time and is typically
higher than the annual dropout rate. One drawback is that the longitudinal dropout rate masks changes that happen from year to year.
Also, it is
important to realize that neither the annual or longitudinal rates capture all students who may leave the Texas public school system without a high
school degree.

"Other" Leavers
TEA provides another classification that is not as well known: leavers. Leavers are students who left between October of a given year and
September of the following school year.47 Leavers are divided into three groups: graduates, dropouts, and "other" leavers. In 2003-2004, 566,222
high school students were classified as leavers, with 43.1% leaving due to graduation and 2.9% dropping out. However, 19.0% (107,742) left due
to "other reasons."48 These "other reasons" include several categories that clearly should not be included in the dropout rate: enrolling in an out
of state school, attending an alternative GED or diploma program, and enrolling in private school. It is less clear whether additional "other" leaver
categories, such as completing all graduation requirements except passing the TAKS test or being expelled for criminal behavior, should be
classified as dropouts when considering that those students leave without a clear path to a high school degree.

Attrition Rate
The attrition rate measures the percentage of students from a class of 9th graders who are not enrolled in 12th grade four years later. According
to the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), of the 387,258 9th graders who began high school in 2000-2001, 139,413
students were not enrolled in grade 12 in Texas public schools four years later, giving the state an attrition rate of 36% (see IDRA's website,
www.idra.org, for full details on their calculation methods).49 The attrition rate produces the largest dropout measurement by far, representing a
school's ability to keep students enrolled through their senior year.50 However, it does not take into account the valid reasons for students leaving
the system, such as early graduation and transfers to private schools. This measure also does not capture those students who leave between fall
enrollment of their senior year and graduation.

Status Dropout Rate
The status dropout rate is a nationally used measure for a wide range of age groups. The status dropout rate provided by the U.S. Census
Bureau's 2000 Census and American Community Survey (2002-2004) estimates the percentage of people ages 16 -19 who are not enrolled in
school and lack a high school diploma or high school equivalency.51 The percentage of 16 -19 year olds in Texas who are not enrolled in school
and do not have a high school degree is 9.3%.52

The status dropout rate is useful because it signifies eventual educational attainment for youth,
giving students a longer amount of time to obtain graduation certification. However, it is only an estimate from the sample population, which
leaves room for error. Additionally, it does not differentiate between Texas public school students and those who have moved into the state
without a degreefurther clouding the specific role and responsibility of the Texas public school system in providing an educated workforce.

Sources
1 United States General Accounting Office. "School Dropouts: Education Could Play a Stronger Role in Identifying and Disseminating Promising Prevention Strategies." February, 2002. Page 1.
2 Texas Education Agency, "Secondary School Completion and Dropouts in Texas Public Schools 2003-2004"; Austin, TX: 2005.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid. Page 11.
6 Intercultural Development Research Association, "Little Improvement in Texas School Holding Power: Texas Public Attrition Study, 2004-05." IDRA Newsletter Online. http://www.idra.org/
Newslttr/2005/Oct/Roy.htm. 2005.
7 National Center for Data Statistics. "Dropout Rates in the United States: 2000." 2001.
8 Fry, Richard. "The High Schools Hispanics Attend: Size and Other Key Characteristics." Pew Hispanic Center. November, 2005. Page i.
9 Ibid. Page i.
10 Percentages are of those special groups who dropped out; e.g. of the 3,086 students classified as immigrants in their 9th grade year, 516 (16.7%) dropped out by their scheduled graduation in
2004.
11 Texas Education Agency, "Secondary School Completion and Dropouts in Texas Public Schools." August 2005.
12 Texas Education Agency, "1996 Comprehensive Biennial Report on Texas Public Schools." Online. http://www.tea.state.tx.us/reports/1996cmprpt/04retain.html.
13 To create our county size categories, we applied the U.S. Department of Agriculture Codes Using to TEAʼs four-year longitudinal dropout rate for each county. We then collapsed the USDAs
nine categories into the following four to enhance data interpretation: urban = counties in metro areas of 250,000 or more; large suburban = counties with populations from 20,000 to 249,999;
small suburban = counties with populations from 2,500 to 19,999; rural = counties with populations less than 2,500. We then created a weighted percentage within each county grouping, dividing
the total number of dropouts for that category by the total student population for the class of 2004 from that county.
14 Fry, Richard. "The High Schools Hispanics Attend: Size and Other Key Characteristics." Pew Hispanic Center. November, 2005. Page i.
15 Dropout data is usually reported by school district as an accountability measure. Our supplemental county-bycounty report is less concerned with school district performance and more
concerned with economic consequences. This supplement is intended to help you assess the economic consequences of your community by looking at the four-year longitudinal graduation and
dropout rates for your counties or the counties in your region.
16 Bridgeland, John, John Dilulio, and Karen Burke Morison. "The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts." Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Seattle, WA:. 2006.
8
17 Texas Education Agency, "Secondary School Completion and Dropouts in Texas Public Schools 2003-2004." Austin, TX: 2005. Page x.
18 Bridgeland, John, John Dilulio, and Karen Burke Morison. "The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts." Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Seattle, WA: 2006. Page 3.
19 Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. "2005 Data Book." Austin, TX: 2005.
20 School age is defined in this statistic as children ages 6-17.
21 Burley, M., and M. Halpern. "Educational Attainment of Foster Youth: Achievement and Graduation Outcomes for Children in State Care." Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
Olympia, WA: 2001.
22 Courtney, M. E., Roderick, M., Smithgall, C., Gladden, R. M., & Nagaoka, J. "The Educational Status of Foster Children." Chapin Hall Center for Children, Issue Brief #102. Chicago: 2004.
University of Chicago.
23 DFPS considers youths to be emancipated from the Texas foster care system either when they turn 18 or, if they are under age 18, have married or had their minority status removed by a court
of law.
24 2005 Data Book. Austin, TX: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. 2005.
25 Hormuth, Pamela. "All Grown Up, Nowhere to Go: Texas Teens in Foster Care Transition." Texas Foster Care Transitions Project. Center for Public Policy Priorities, Austin: 2001.
26 Choice, P., et al. "Education for Foster Children: Removing Barriers to Academic Success." Bay Area Social Services Consortium. Center for Social Services Research. University of
California, Berkley: 2001.
27 Smithgall, C., Gladden, R. M., Howard, E., Goerge, R., & Courtney, M. "Educational Experiences of Children in Out-of-home Care." Chapin Hall Center for Children, Chicago: 2004.
28 For reviews, see Courtney et al. (2004), Hormuth (2001), and Mech, E. V. (1994). "Foster Youths in Transition: Research Perspectives on Preparation for Independent Living." Child Welfare,
73, pp.603-623.
29 Burley, M., & Halpern, M. "Educational Attainment of Foster Youth: Achievement and Graduation Outcomes for Children in State Care." Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
Olympia, WA: 2001.
30 Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. "2005 Data Book." Austin, TX: 2005.
31 Senate Bill 6, 79th Regular Legislative Session (enacted): 2005.
32 Texas Education Agency, "Secondary School Completion and Dropouts in Texas Public Schools." Austin, TX: August 2005. Page 65.
33 We retrieved the senior high school designations and the total operating expenses per pupil per campus from TEAʼs Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS). The 2003-2004 actual
expenses are reported in the AEIS 2004-2005 profiles. The senior high school designation applied to 1,674 campuses in 2003-2004, which included at least a 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade class.
34 The dropout rate cost calculation assumed that students who were retained would still have been retained in our scenario, but that they would not be retained again if they had stayed in school
through graduation. Because of these retentions, some students would have been in school past the 2003-2004 school year. For example, students who repeated the eleventh grade twice would
not have graduated in our scenario until 2005-2006. From there, we created a total number of students for each academic year from 2000-2001 through 2005-2006 who would have still been in
school from the Class of 2004 if they had not dropped out. Then we multiplied each number of additional students for that academic year by the median operating expenses per student across
all Texas senior high schools for that year. For those years that have yet to occur or report their expenditure data, we estimated the median cost per student for the academic years of 2004-2005,
2005-2006, and 2006-2007 based on the change in median cost across the preceding school years from 2000-2001 to 2003-2004. Lastly, we summed the total cost per year across the related
academic years to obtain an estimate of total costs to Texas of keeping all official dropouts in school at $180 million.
35 This statistic is over a six-year period as the data we received from TEA on students who dropped out also showed the years that they were retained in school. Thus, assuming that grade
retention stayed the same that no kids dropped out, it would take six years, rather than the traditional four, for all students from the Class of 2004 to graduate.
36 To estimate what Texas actually spent from 9th grade to 12th grade on the Class of 2004, we first determined the enrollment numbers for the class of 2004 from 9th grade through 12th grade.
Next, we multiplied the number of students in each year by the median total operating expenses per student across all Texas public senior high schools for that academic year (2000-01: $5602;
01-02: $5600; 02-03: $6261; 03-04: $6323). Next, we summed the total costs across all four years to obtain an estimate of $6.6 billion in total operating expenses to educate all of the Class of
2004 from 9th grade through graduation in Spring 2004.
37 To estimate additional costs required if all students enrolled in 9th grade in the Fall of 2000 had stayed in the Texas public school system and graduated, we assumed that all 360,857 9th
graders would stay through their 12th grade year and graduate in Spring 2004. Next we multiplied the total number of 9th graders from the Fall of 2000 by the median total operating expenses
per student across all Texas public senior high schools for each academic year of high school (see endnote 41 above for median costs). Next, we summed the total costs across all four years, and
subtracted this number from the estimated costs of the students who actually did stay in school (see footnote 41 above the estimated actual costs). This calculation yielded a total of $1.7 billion
in extra expenses if all of these students who enrolled in 9th grade in 2000-2001 had stayed in school and graduated in Spring 2004.
38 Bridgeland, John, John Dilulio, and Karen Burke Morison. "The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts." Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Seattle, WA: 2006. Page 6.
39 2004 Census Bureau. American Community Survey Subject Tables: Texas.
40 The 2004 American Community Survey estimates that 115,546 sixteen to nineteen year-old Texans are not in school and do not have a high school degree.
41 "Louisiana Business Image Survey." The Public Policy Research Lab, Louisiana State University. Online: http://www.survey.lsu.edu/lasurvey.html. 2005.
42 Bridgeland, John, John Dilulio, and Karen Burke Morison. "The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts." Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Seattle, WA: 2006. Page 2.
43 Intercultural Development Research Association, "Little Improvement in Texas School Holding Power: Texas Public Attrition Study, 2004-05." IDRA Newsletter Online: http://www.idra.org/
Newslttr/2005/Oct/Roy.htm. 2005.
44 For the purposes of this report, the term "high school" is used specifically in reference to grades 9-12 unless otherwise stated.
45 Texas Education Agency, "Secondary School Completion and Dropouts in Texas Public Schools 2003-2004." Austin, TX: 2005. Page 24.
46 Ibid.
47 Ibid. Page 6.
48 Ibid. Page 10.
49 Intercultural Development Research Association, "Little Improvement in Texas School Holding Power: Texas Public Attrition Study, 2004-05." IDRA Newsletter Online: http://www.idra.org/
Newslttr/2004/Oct/Roy.htm#lost. 2005.
50 Ibid.
51 The 2000 Decennial Census and 2002-2004 American Community Survey data files can be found at www.census.gov.
52 Status dropout rate was calculated from the U.S. Census Bureauʼs 2004 American Community Survey, table B14005.
Principal Researchers
Frances Deviney, Ph.D. Leticia Cavazos
Texas KIDS COUNT Director Texas KIDS COUNT Intern
Editorial Support
Eva DeLuna Castro Lynsey Kluever F. Scott McCown
Senior Budget Analyst Communications Director Executive Director
Since 1993, the Center for Public Policy Priorities has been home to Texas KIDS COUNT. Texas KIDS COUNT provides sound and reliable data on key benchmarks of
child well-being as a way to enrich discussion and ensure better futures for all children.
We thank the Annie E. Casey Foundation for funding this report. The findings and conclusions presented, however, are solely those of the Center for Public Policy
Priorities, as are any errors or omissions.
The Center for Public Policy Priorities is a nonpartisan research organization committed to improving public policies to better the economic
and social conditions of low- and moderate-income Texans.
Center for Public Policy Priorities, 2006

— Center for Public Policy Priorities
Texas Kids Count

http://www.cppp.org/files/10/TKC_Report(S)%20-%20FINAL.pdf


INDEX OF RESEARCH THAT COUNTS


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