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Fact Check: The New Bedford High School dropout rate


As the November 7th New Bedford election draws near, a lot of candidates and supporters throw out numbers and statistics – some are accurate, some are not. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of claims on social media regarding the New Bedford High School dropout rate – from 55%-60% recently on Facebook.

One person heard it was 55% and wanted to know the truth.

Another person stated he knew it was at 60%.

So what is the current New Bedford High School graduation rate? How has it trended over the years?

First, it’s important to note that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary education keeps the only stats that matter. The 2016 Graduation rate numbers can be found here and the dropout numbers here.

The numbers for any given year are generally released in February. We reported the 2016 numbers here.

Now let’s look at the numbers.

New Bedford High School’s 2016 four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate was at 70.9% and the non-adjusted rate was at 65.2%. The 2015 four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate was 67.8%. It was 61.4% in 2010. Simple math tells you that the cohort graduation rate has increased by 9.5% from 2010 to 2016. Considering New Bedford High School had 2,066 students in 2016, that would mean New Bedford High School is graduating about 200 more students over a 4-year period.

Here’s a look at the 2016 graduation rates for New Bedford High School:

Graduation rates and dropout rates tell very different stories. Sometimes kids stay in school without dropping out – they don’t graduate that year, but they don’t dropout either. This is why you see graduation rates, cohort graduation rates and 5-year graduation rates. Kids may not graduate with the freshman class they started with for various reasons, but that doesn’t mean they drop out.

New Bedford High School’s four-year dropout rate was at 12% in 2016, down from 13.9% in 2015. It stood at 21.2% in 2013. The dropout rate seems to be moving in the right direction. New Bedford High’s 2016 graduating class dropout rate is 4.4%. Here’s the breakdown for 2016:

The graduation rate at comparable Durfee High School in Fall River in 2016 was at 79.2%, a full 9% higher than New Bedford High School. Clearly New Bedford High School still needs work, but it’s not as bad as some are claiming on social media.

So what’s the fact check? The New Bedford High School dropout rate for 2016 was 12%, not the 55-60% some are claiming.

Notice a questionable fact floating around social media? Email mike@newbedfordguide.com.

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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