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News Release - Dropout Rate Continues to Decline

Jan. 22, 2015

Dropout rate continues to decline

State continues to show improvement in graduation rate

Dropout Rate

Data released today by the Colorado Department of Education show the state saw a decrease in the dropout rate for the eighth consecutive year. The 2013-2014 dropout rate is 2.4 percent. This year’s rate improved by 0.1 percentage points from last year. Colorado’s public schools generated 118 fewer dropouts in 2013-2014 than in the 2012-2013 school year. View more information.

The dropout rate reflects the percentage of all students enrolled in grades seven through 12 who leave school without transferring to another educational environment during a single school year. It is calculated by dividing the number of dropouts by a membership base, which includes all seventh- through 12th-grade students who were in membership any time during the year.

Graduation Rate

The on-time graduation rate for the class of 2014 increased 0.4 percentage points to 77.3 percent as compared to last year. There were 730 more graduates in the class of 2014 than in the class of 2013. The on-time graduation rate stood at 76.9 percent for the class of 2013.

The on-time graduation rate reflects the percentage of students from a given graduation class who receive a diploma within four years of completing 8th-grade. View individual district, school and statewide data.

A total of 126 (71 percent) Colorado school districts achieved a four-year on-time graduation rate at or above the state’s expectation of at least 80 percent. In Colorado, local school boards set their own graduation requirements, course requirements and exit criteria, which means expectations for earning a diploma, may differ from district to district.

“There is cause for optimism in these steadily improving results,” said Rebecca Holmes, associate commissioner for innovation, choice and engagement at CDE. “Many districts are doing remarkable work to move more and more students toward readiness for the day after high school graduation, even if that means giving them more than four years to get there.  However, in our state as a whole the gaps based on race, ethnicity and income level are still concerning.  We should all be learning from the outstanding schools and districts where a student’s demographics do not determine their educational outcomes.”

Achievement Gap

Among racial and ethnic groups, the on-time graduation rate for the 2013-2014 school year was 60.7 percent for American Indian; 84.7 percent for Asian students; 69 percent for black students; 66.7 percent for Hispanic students; 83.2 percent for white students; 73.4 percent for Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and 79.7 percent for students reported as two or more races.


Statewide, the on-time graduation for females was 81 percent and the male graduation rate was 73.7 percent.  These rates reflect a slight narrowing of the on-time graduation rate gap between female and male students compared to last year’s rates of 80.9 and 73.2 respectively.

Completion Rate

Combining all graduates with those completers who receive a certificate, a designation of high school completion or a GED certificate determines the completion rate. The 2013-2014 completion rate was 79.5 percent, while the 2012-2013 completion rate was 79.6 percent.

Giving Students More Time

Colorado has been persistent in keeping students who fall short of graduation requirements  enrolled beyond their fourth year of high school and moving them to graduate in five or six years.

“We see evidence that students take advantage of policies that give more time to work toward a high school diploma,” said Holmes. “The graduation rate for the class of 2011 increased from 73.9 percent as a four-year rate to 80.1 percent as a six-year rate.  This translates to more than 3,600 additional graduates from this class.  Districts and schools are finding ways to support students by making time a variable, and learning and college and career readiness the constant.”

Tools to Understand the Numbers

CDE has created a number of interactive tools and maps to better illustrate how the graduation and dropout rates look across the state. You can find them on the Graduation Statistics and Dropout Statistics web pages.