Colorado high school dropout rates rise for first time in nearly a decade

A rise in the number of high school dropouts has the Colorado Department of Education scrambling for solutions.


High school dropout rates have increased slightly for the first time in eight years, the Colorado Department of Education reports.

Statewide, public schools saw 586 more students drop out in 2014-2015 than in the previous school year, a 0.1 percentage point increase. The dropout rate for students in grades seven through 12 is currently 2.5 percent.

It may seem like a small increase, but the CDE is paying attention. “The department is concerned about the small increase in the dropout rate,” Gretchen Morgan, interim associate commissioner of innovation, choice and engagement at the CDE, said in a statement.

“We know that earning a diploma or GED can have life-long impact on young people,” Morgan added. “We think there are important lessons to be learned from schools and districts who continue to reduce dropout rates this year.  Now that the data is released, we will shift our focus to learning about those programs.”

The slight change has not yet manifested in the overall on-time graduation rate, which remains at 77.3 percent. This rate is significantly higher for female students than for males (81.2 versus 73.6 percent). On-time graduation rates for minority students have risen 1.1 percentage points over the past year.

Morgan says that the state’s insistence on giving students more time has been good for overall graduation rates. “This year, as in past years, there are significant increases in graduation rates when we include students who graduate in their fifth-and sixth-year,” she said.

Nearly one third of all students who dropped out during the 2014 school year have reenrolled in school this year.

Said Morgan, “We continue to see value in offering additional time to students.”


Photo Credit: The U.S. National Archives, Creative Commons, Flickr