The real dropout rate explained

KATELYN MOORE, Staff Writer, Editor

Contrary to popular belief, Gloucester High School’s dropout rate did not double. In fact, the dropout rate has significantly decreased over a 10-year time span.

GHS statistics have recently caught the attention of the city, specifically the “dropout rate.” However, confusion about what the numbers actually are and indicate is still prominent.  Here’s what these statistics actually mean.

There are two forms of dropout data: unadjusted cohort numbers and adjusted cohort numbers. A “cohort” begins at the start of an entire class’s freshman year after October 1st. This cohort lasts for all four years of the class’s attendance at the high school.

The unadjusted cohort number is calculated by the number of students who enter at the beginning of the cohort plus the number of transfer students who come in during that four year period minus the number of students who transfer out in that time frame.

Similarly, the adjusted cohort number is calculated by the number of students who enter at the beginning of the cohort minus the students who leave the cohort during the four years. This counts as transfers out as well as dropouts.

However, if a student leaves the cohort with the intention of transferring, but then that student never enrolls at another school, that student counts as a “dropout” from Gloucester High.

“The fixation so far has been on the percent dropped out of the cohort,” said Principal James Cook, who further explained that the dropout rate is a completely different statistic that includes all grade levels for one particular year, rather than four, such as a cohort.

According to Cook, the unadjusted cohort number for the cohort of 2016 (class of 2016) was 7.5%. However, this number was calculated over a four year time period, and took into account the amount of students who transferred in or out. This was not the dropout rate for the year of 2016.

Once again, the dropout rate includes all cohorts, or classes, in a single year. The dropout rate for the 2014-2015 school year was 2.0%. In the 2015-2016 school year, the dropout rate was 2.1%.

“The ceiling tiles drop out more than the students do,” said senior Jenna Taormina.

The unadjusted cohort number for the class of 2016 was higher than it was for the class of 2015, which was significantly lower than it has been in the past 10 years. This makes it looks worse because 2015 was such a good year.  According to Cook, this anomaly is being looked into.

“We want to look into the number especially if the number isn’t a trend,” said Cook. “It’s interesting and it gives us somewhere to start, but then we need to investigate what’s behind the number and the story behind the number.”