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About the Data - Dropouts

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Overview

Dropout rates for students enrolled in Wisconsin public schools are available on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Website. These rates are also called annual event dropout rates and are used to track annual changes in dropout behavior.

Where to Find Data about Dropouts
School Years  WISEdash   School District 
 Performance Report 
 WINSS Historical 
 Data Files 
Beginning with 2007-08 X X --
2005-06 through 2006-07 X -- --
1996-07 through 2004-05 -- -- X

WISEdash is DPI's primary data analysis portal and contains the most current and most complete range of data about dropouts. WINSS Data Analysis was DPI's primary public data portal for dropout information until summer 2015 when more recent years of WINSS dropout data were migrated to WISEdash.

Dropout rates are reported for grades seven through 12 and are calculated for public schools and districts statewide as part of the School District Performance Report (SDPR). Dropout information is also included as part of Wisconsin's Accountability Report Cards; see About Wisconsin Accountability. Below you will find detailed background information, definitions, and related links to facilitate use and appropriate interpretation of student dropout data on the DPI Website. Unless otherwise indicated, all information about WISEdash data on this page is about the Certified Data View, the default WISEdash Data View.


Cautions

  1. In 2003-04, two changes occurred which affect comparability of pre- and post-2003-04 rates:
    • Dropout counting criteria were made more explicit and counting was automated at the state level based on student level information submitted in the Individual Student Enrollment System (ISES) resulting in more consistent counting across districts.
    • A new formula is used to calculate dropout rates beginning with rates for 2003-04. See Calculating Rates below.
  2. 2003-04 was a year of transition to a new dropout data collection, the Individual Student Enrollment System (ISES), and as a result:
    • ISES data for certain districts and schools may not be comprehensive.
    • It was not possible to collect summer dropout data for 2003-04 in ISES so these data were collected separately and may be incomplete.
    • Increases or decreases in counts from 2002-03 to 2003-04 or 2003-04 to 2004-05 may not reflect increases or decreases in actual dropouts due to changes in the way counting criteria are applied.
  3. In 1998-99, the definition of dropout changed. See WISEdash Glossary for details

Definitions of Key Terms

For definitions, see the WISEdash Glossary (includes terms used in SDPR and in WINSS files).


Calculating Rates

Dropout rates calculated for grades 7 through 12 as described below. These rates are sometimes called "annual event dropout rates". Annual event dropout rates are used to track annual changes in dropout behavior.

Dropout Rates

Beginning with 2003-04, the dropout rate is the number of students who dropped out during the school term divided by the total expected to complete that school term in that school or district. "Total expected to complete the school term" is the denominator used to calculate all dropout rates and is the sum of

  • students who completed the school term plus
  • dropouts.

The "total expected to complete the school term" may be more or less than the fall enrollment count because this "total" adjusts for student transfers in and out after the fall enrollment count date.

Prior to 2003-04, the dropout rate is the number of dropouts divided by the number of students enrolled on the fall enrollment count date.

Counting Dropouts

Beginning with 2003-04, annual event dropout counting was automated using student level ISES exit types, completed school term indicators, and re-enrollment status. Any student who exits after completing the school term X-1 or who exits during school term X without completing that school term X is counted as a dropout for school year X if that student does not re-enroll by the 3rd Friday of September count date of school term X+1, has not completed high school, and does not meet any of the federally-identified exclusionary conditions. See the WISEdash Glossary definition of "dropout" for a list of exclusionary conditions. Dropout counting processes are based on these data and the federal annual event dropout definition.

Prior to 2003-04, dropouts were counted by districts based on the federal annual event dropout definition and submitted to DPI as part of the SPR aggregate collection.

In most cases, dropouts count at the grade level and for the district/school of their most recent school enrollment period that school year. Exceptions apply as follows:

  • Grade level placement. The grade level of any "full term" dropout is the grade level that reflects any promotion earned as of the end of school term X-1, i.e. the grade level of the dropout if he/she had re-enrolled in school term X. Any dropout who completed the school term X-1 but who did not re-enroll by the 3rd Friday of September of school term X+1 is a "full term" dropout.
  • Accountable district/school. Dropouts who were expected to transfer to another Wisconsin school (e.g. middle to high school) or district (e.g. movement of residence) but discontinued schooling are counted for the expected transfer school or district. Otherwise the accountable school/district is the same for dropouts as for other student outcomes (e.g. WSAS, attendance, ACT, etc)

 

Since dropouts are counted as annual events, a student can count as a dropout at most once in any given school year. A dropout in any given school year may, in any subsequent school year, re-enter school, dropout again, and/or complete high school.

Counting Students who Completed the School Term

Any student coded in ISES as having completed the school term in the dropout school year is counted in the denominator used to calculate dropout rate for that school year.


Data Changes Over Time

Beginning with 1998-99. The dropout definition changed. See WISEdash Glossary for details.

Beginning with 2002-03. Dropout rate reporting by student group expanded from by gender, by race/ethnicity, and by grade level to include rates by disability status.

Beginning with 2003-04.

  • Dropout counting criteria were made more explicit in 2003-04 with the implementation of the Individual Student Enrollment System (ISES).
    ISES is designed to document student movements into and out of the PK-12 educational system. Data about student movements is used by ISES to determine if a student is a dropout or not. In ISES, dropouts are counted based primarily on the Wisconsin Student Locator System (WSLS) enrollment records, ISES exit types, and ISES completed school term indicators rather than local interpretation of the dropout definition. Before ISES, dropouts were counted locally based on relatively ambiguous and more limited counting criteria.
  • Dropout rates are calculated in a new way beginning in 2003-04. See "Calculating Rates" above.

Beginning with 2004-05. Dropout rate reporting by student group includes data by English language proficiency and economic status.


Data Sources

Beginning with 2004-05. Dropout rates are based on data collected by the Individual Student Enrollment System (ISES). For each dropout rate year, two sets of ISES Year End (YE) records are used: (a) dropout records where the dropout school year is the rate year and (b) records for students who completed the school term in that rate year. Set (a) is used for the dropout rate numerator, and sets (a) and (b) are used for the dropout rate denominator. Fall enrollments are based on ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records beginning in 2004-05 and is provided for comparison purposes only (no longer used in calculating dropout rates beginning with 2003-04).

2003-04. Data for dropout rates come from ISES and a separate one-time aggregate collection of 2003-04 summer dropout counts. Fall enrollments (for comparison purposes) come from the PI-1290 Fall Enrollment collection (counts by gender, race/ethnicity, and grade level) and PI-2197 Federal Student Data collection (counts by disability).

Prior to 2003-04. The dropout rate numerator is based on dropout counts from School Performance Report aggregate collection. The dropout rate denominator is based on PI-1290 fall enrollment counts by gender, race/ethnicity, and grade level and PI-2197 fall enrollment counts by disability.

The table below summarizes difference in data sources across DPI public data tools/reports.

Dropout Data Sources by Data Tool/Report
Data Element WISEdash (Certified Data View) School District Performance Report WINSS Historical Data Files
District/School* ISES YE records for dropouts and students who completed the school term. Accountable district/school is used. Same as WISEdash. Beginning in 2004-05, same as WISEdash; 2003-04, combination of ISES YE records and one-time aggregate summer dropout collection; before 2003-04, SPR collection, PI-1290, and PI-2197.
Students who Completed the School Term - Counts and Demographics ISES YE records for students who completed the school term. Same as WISEdash. Beginning in 2003-04, same as WISEdash; before 2003-04, NA.
Dropouts - Counts and Demographics* ISES YE records for dropouts. Same as WISEdash. Beginning in 2004-05, same as WISEdash; 2003-04, combination of ISES YE records and one-time aggregate collection of summer dropouts; before 2003-04, SPR collection.
Enrollment - District/School, Counts, and Demographics NA ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records. Beginning in 2004-05, ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records; prior to 2004-05, PI-1290 and PI-2197.

* In certain situations, multiple fields are used to determine grade level placement and accountable district/school for dropouts. See Counting Dropouts under Calculating Rates above.


Frequently Asked Questions about Dropout Data

  1. How are "annual event dropout rates" different from "status dropout rates"?
    These two rates are calculated differently and are designed to answer different questions. "Annual event dropout rates" are dropouts for any given school year as a percentage of all students expected to complete the school term that year. Annual event dropout rates are used to track annual changes in dropout behavior. "Status dropout rates" look at percentage of individuals in a given age range who are not in school and have not completed high school. Status dropout rates are used to study general population issues.
  2. What is the relationship between (annual event) dropouts and students counted in adjusted cohorts (high school completion) as "Not Known to Be Continuing"?
    These two counts have different purposes and are subject to different counting requirements. Key differences are described below:
    • Dropouts are annual events and are counted annually. "Not known to be continuing" status is evaluated only at the end of a 4, 5, or 6-year high school completion timeframe.
    • Dropouts are counted at grades 7 through 12. "Not known to be continuing" status is evaluated only if a student is assigned to a cohort (grades 9 through 12).
    As a result, students who counted in multiple annual dropout events over the multi-year graduation timeframe count no more than once as "not known to be continuing". Students who dropped out before being assigned to a cohort or who were counted as an annual dropout event and later returned to continue high school are not counted as "not known to be continuing". Students who complete the final school year of the timeframe without evidence of high school continuation the next year are counted as "not known to be continuing" for the school year at the end of the timeframe, but would not count as an annual dropout event until the following year.
  3. Why might dropout counts/rates in the WISEdash Certified Data View be different from dropout counts/rates in the WISEdash Current Data View?
    Dropout data in the Certified and Current Data Views may not exactly match primarily due to differences in determining student demographic group associations, district/school assignments, and handling duplicate student identifiers. Student group associations (e.g. race/ethnicity, economic status, etc) for Certified and Current Data Views are based on ISES end-of-year district and ISES end-of-year state records, respectively, resulting in conflicting student group associations for some students coded as completing the school term in multiple districts. The Certified Data View assigns students to the accountable district/school, and the Current Data View assigns students to the submitting district/school. Issues with student identifiers may be discovered and resolved after official publication of dropout rates, and the Current Data View reflects resolution of these issues so student counts can change at any point in time. For more details, see Data Sources above and WISEdash Support - about the Current and Certified Data Views.

     


Useful Links

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Data Tools and Reports
(All links below provide access to state and local dropout data.)