Texas school districts differ greatly based on characteristics such as community type, district size, student performance, and expenditures. The dropout rates of schools among these categories differ as well. Appendix B includes a listing of dropout rates by district characteristics.
The dropout rates for school districts by community type are shown in Appendix B. Texas school districts are grouped into eight categories based on the type of community in which they are located. Factors such as proximity to a metropolitan area, size, and growth rate are used to determine the appropriate category for each district. (For a complete list of community types and their definitions refer to Appendix B.) The highest dropout rates are found in school districts located in urban areas, the lowest in rural and nonmetropolitan fast growing areas. Texas student information shows that both minority students and economically disadvantaged students are found in greater numbers in the urban areas, and these students are already known to drop out of public schools at higher rates than their nonminority and wealthier peers.
Districts with the largest enrollments are also more concentrated in urban areas, again coinciding with higher dropout rates. Appendix B shows that districts with student enrollments over 50,000--all of whom are considered major urban districts--have a dropout rate of 2.5 percent. Districts with enrollments under 500 have the lowest dropout rate of 0.7 percent. The average dropout rate tends to decrease as district size decreases.
Appendix B also shows dropout rates among school districts based on student performance. Districts are grouped based on the percentage of students passing all Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) tests taken. As the percentage of students passing all TAAS tests increases, the dropout rate decreases. The 207 districts with under 54.0 percent of their students passing all TAAS tests have a dropout rate of 2.3 percent, compared to 0.9 percent in districts with over 74.4 percent of students passing the TAAS.
The resources of school districts and campuses have been considered a factor in the ability to supply needed support services for students at risk of dropping out of school. School districts with average and below average operating costs per pupil serve a large proportion of the state's total enrollment and, not surprisingly, a similarly large percentage of the total dropouts. School districts with the highest operating costs per pupil have the lowest dropout rate of 1.0 percent. However, districts with the lowest operating costs have the next lowest rate of 1.4 percent.
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