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Dropout Statistics - Definitions

Understanding Dropout Rates

The short informational video and PPT below provide a high-level overview of the dropout rate calculations and data collection process.

Video: Dropout Rates PPT: Dropout Rates 

Student Data Privacy Guidelines for Dropout Rates

Data privacy guidelines are applied to publicly reported district and school level dropout rates to maintain student data privacy. The methods for student data privacy include blurring of membership base sizes with small populations, blurring membership base sizes for subgroups with small populations, and top/bottom masking of rates. While complicated, these methods ensure student data is protected while providing transparent information regarding dropout rates as much as possible. Detailed information regarding the data privacy guidelines applied to published dropout rate data is available on the Graduation, Dropout, Mobility Rates: Aggregate Data Privacy page.



A student who leaves school for any reason, except death, before completion of a high school diploma or its equivalent, and who does not transfer to another public or private school or enroll in an approved home study program. Students who reach the age of 21 before receiving a diploma or designation of completion are also counted as dropouts.

Membership Base:

The count of all 7th-12th grade students who were in membership in a district/school/subgroup at any point during the school year.

Alternative School:

A public elementary or secondary school that addresses the needs of students that typically cannot be met in a regular school program. The school provides nontraditional education; serves as an adjunct to a regular school; and falls outside the categories of regular, special education, or vocational education. An alternative school may or may not also be considered an Alternative Education Campus (AEC).

Instructional Program/Service Type (IPST):

Services provided by schools and/or districts in the current year for students identified as belonging to one or more of the categories below:

  • Students with Disabilities: Students who have been formally identified as having physical or health conditions that may have a significant impact on the student’s ability to learn and therefore warrant placing the student on an Individual Educational Program (IEP).
  • English Learners: Students who have been identified as Non-English Proficient (NEP), Limited English Proficient (LEP), or Fluent English Proficient Monitor Years 1 and 2 (FEP Monitor 1, FEP Monitor 2). Non-English Proficient is defined as a student who speaks a language other than English and does not comprehend, speak, read, or write English. Limited English Proficient is defined as a student who comprehends, speaks, reads, or writes some English, but whose predominant comprehension or speech is in a language other than English. Fluent English Proficient students in year 1 or 2 of monitor status are students who have spoken, or currently speak, a language other than English, but who can comprehend, speak, read, and write English comparable to their monolingual English-speaking peers. Districts must provide language services to all English Learners.
  • Economically Disadvantaged: Student qualifies for either the free or reduced lunch program. The Federal National School Lunch Act establishes eligibility for the reduced-price lunch program for families with income up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level (in 2009, this amount was $39,220 for a family of four). Families with income up to 130 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for the free lunch program (in 2009 this amount was $27,560 for a family of four).
  • Migrant: Students enrolled in a specially designed program for children who are, or whose parent or spouse is a migratory agricultural worker, and who, in the preceding 36 months, in order to obtain, or accompany such parent or spouse in order to obtain, temporary or seasonal employment in agricultural work has moved from one school district to another.
  • Title 1: Students in schools receiving grants under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) who are beneficiaries of educational resources paid with those Title I funds. For schools that operate schoolwide (SW) Title I programs, all students are considered Title I and are eligible for support and services. For schools that operate targeted assistance (TA) Title I programs, only students identified as at risk of failing to meet Colorado’s academic achievement standards who receive supports and services paid with Title I funds are considered Title I students. School Title I designation and grant formulas are based on the numbers of students eligible for free or reduced cost meals (FRM).
  • Homeless: According to the McKinney Act, a “homeless individual” lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.
  • Gifted and Talented: Students who have been formally identified, using district wide procedures aligned with CDE guidelines, as being endowed with a high degree of exceptionality or potential in mental ability, academics, creativity, or talents (visual, performing, musical arts, or leadership.
  • Military Connected: Students who have a parent or guardian who is an active-duty member of the Armed Forces or on full-time National Guard duty.
  • Foster: Students in foster care as reported to CDE by the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS).

For additional information, email Reagan Ward,