Roy L. Johnson, M.S.

The ability of Texas public high schools to keep students in school until they graduate is no better than 23 years ago, according to the latest attrition study by the Intercultural Development Research Association. In its most recent annual attrition study that examines school holding power in Texas public high schools, IDRA found that 33 percent of the freshman class of 2004-05 left school prior to graduating in the 2007-08 school year. While declining one percentage point each year recently, the statewide attrition rate is the same as it was found to be in IDRA’s landmark 1985-86 study.

A supplemental analysis indicates that, based on one statistical scenario of Texas attrition rate history, the state will not reach an attrition rate of zero until 2044. At this pace, the state will lose an additional 2.6 million students. (Montes, 2008)

IDRA’s inaugural study found that 86,276 students had not graduated from Texas public high schools, costing the state $17 billion in forgone income, lost tax revenues and increased job training, welfare, unemployment and criminal justice costs (Cárdenas, Robledo and Supik, 1986).

Texas public schools are failing to graduate one out of every three students. Attrition rates as an indicator in a school holding power index show that the rate was 33 percent overall and near 40 percent for Black students and Hispanic students. The overall attrition rate has remained at 33 percent in 1985-86 and 2007-08. The number of students lost from public school enrollment has increased from 86,276 in 1985-86 to 132,815 in 2007-08.

  •  Texas schools continue to lose one student every four minutes; one of every three students (33 percent) from the freshman class of 2004-05 left school prior to graduating with a high school diploma.
  • In Texas for 2007-08, 44 percent of Hispanic students, 38 percent of Black students, and 18 percent of White students were lost from public school enrollment.
  • Between 1985-86 and 2007-08, more than 2.8 million secondary students have been lost from public school enrollment in the state.