Reporting of Dropouts Through the Public Education Information Management System
School districts must collect and report information that is used to calculate dropout rates to TEA through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS). TEA also must collect data from school districts about student retention, or the number of students retained in a grade level through PEIMS. 23
Section 39.051 of the Education Code requires school districts to cooperate with TEA in determining whether a student is a dropout for the purposes of measurement against the academic excellence indicators. TEA had administrative rules on dropout reporting, formerly codified in 19 Texas Administrative Code §61.41, Dropout Reporting, but the rules were repealed in 1996. 24 The PEIMS Data Standards now provide the operational definition of a dropout. This mechanism for defining dropouts increases the ability to modify that definition, as appropriate.
According to TEA PEIMS procedures, every fall each district must submit a PEIMS record for each student enrolled at anytime during the prior school year in grades 7-12. Returning students are reported on the enrollment record and non-returning students are reported on the leaver record. Before fall 1998, districts reported current year enrollment and only a subset of the non-returners: the prior year's graduates and dropouts. Beginning in fall 1998, districts were required to report all students who left the district and provide the reasons each student left. The new leaver reporting now includes graduates, dropouts, students who transferred to other school districts and students who left the Texas public school system for other reasons. 25 That year, districts had a choice of 37 possible leaver reason codes from which to choose. The Data Standards handbook instructs districts to report all school leavers, even if previously reported. 26
Commissioner rules require public schools to maintain records to reflect average daily attendance (ADA) so districts receive their proper allocation of Foundation School Program funds and other funds distributed by TEA.
TEA regulations specify that superintendents, principals and teachers are responsible to their school boards and to the state to maintain accurate, current attendance records. Superintendents also are responsible for safekeeping all attendance records and reports required by the Commissioner of Education. 27
Students in attendance at a private or public community-based dropout recovery education program must be included in computing a district's average daily attendance for funding purposes. 28
School districts do not determine who a dropout is for reporting purposes. Instead, districts use the leaver record to report that a student from the prior year has not re-enrolled in the current year and the reason if known why he or she did not return. TEA's automated statewide Dropout Record Exclusion system then will determine who actually is counted as a "dropout." This system searches state level data systems to identify any students whose records can be "recovered" through information not available to the districts. 29 This is necessary because although a student has left a particular school district, the student may enroll in another district without the former district's knowledge, or may have received a GED. Furthermore, this methodology is necessary because, for accountability purposes, dropouts are counted only once as dropouts in the year they first left school, even if they later re-enroll and drop out again.
Timetable for Submitting Student Dropout Data Through PEIMS
Districts provide the student data that is used to determine dropout rates through PEIMS during Submission 1. Submission 1 reflects students' status as of a date at the end of October (October 29, 1999 for 1999-2000 school year). Submission 1 is due at TEA in early December (December 9, 1999), with a resubmission deadline in early January (January 20, 2000). 30
Districts submit four basic student data record types through PEIMS during Submission 1, which facilitates dropout identification. These record types are 100, 101, 110 and 203. Record Type 100 provides Student Identification data. Record Type 101 provides Student Demographic data. Record Type 110 provides Enrollment data and Record Type 203 provides School "Leaver" data (data on students who "leave" school). 31
When reporting student data in PEIMS, districts must report Student Identification Data, Record Type 100 for all its current students, plus all students who were served by the district in the prior year. 32 Record 100 thus provides a baseline for tracking all students who were in the school the previous year.
In PEIMS submissions, districts must identify students using the student's social security number, if available, or a state-approved alternative identification number provided by TEA. If TEA provides alternative identification numbers, the numbers should stay assigned to the students even if they transfer to another district. Parents are not required to provide the social security numbers of their children. However, children should never be omitted from PEIMS merely because they do not have a Social Security number. According to TEA sources, some districts apparently have claimed unavailability of social security numbers and attempted to manipulate the assignment of alternative identification numbers to students, to mask bad reporting data. 33
The PEIMS Data Standards handbook outlines the procedures schools should take to keep track of student identification numbers for transferring students. As students move from one district to another, districts should ask each incoming student whether or not he or she was served in a Texas public school as of March 16, 1990, or later. If so, the district should request the student's identification number (either SSN or state-assigned alternative ID). If the student fails to provide records from the prior district that indicate the student's ID number, the receiving district should request the ID number from the sending district when requesting transfer of the student's records.
As a result of HB 1440, districts must now verify the identity of each student received from another district and must obtain a copy of the student's prior school records. Superintendents should instruct their administrators to cooperate in exchanging information with other districts in the case of a student's move or transfer. Should a district, after exhausting all other means, be unable to locate a number for a child who was apparently enrolled in a Texas public school on March 16, 1990, or later, TEA will be available as a resource. Districts may call (512) 463-9800 and request a student ID search. The requested information will be mailed to the appropriate school.
PEIMS Student Data, record type 105, is submitted when a student's identification number is changed since the most recent PEIMS data submission. A 105 record is submitted when a student who has previously been reported with an alternative ID number provides a Social Security number to his or her district. In other cases, a student who has provided the district a Social Security number may request that it no longer be used to identify him or her, so the district must change to an alternative ID number for this student. These changes are reported with a 105 record. In most cases, a student will not show a change from one alternative ID number to another alternative ID number. The alternative ID number originally assigned to a student moves with the student when they change districts. However, if the alternative ID number was inadvertently reported incorrectly at the last PEIMS submission, it can be corrected through the 105 record. 34
PEIMS student data submission, record type 101, Demographic data, includes a field for "As-of-Status-Code," E1002, C163, which may indicate a possible dropout. E1002, As-of-Status-Code, differentiates between students' enrollment status for the prior and current years.
- An "As-of-Status-Code" of "0" means that the student was enrolled last year but not this year. Therefore, a Record type 203 School Leaver record is required if the student was in grades 7-12 during the prior year.
- An "As-of-Status-Code" of "1" indicates the student was enrolled on the fall as-of date.
- An "As-of-Status-Code" of "2" indicates that a prior-year student has been in the district during the current year, although not on the as-of date, which is not appropriate for reporting on the school 203 leaver record. For example, a prior year student was not enrolled in the district by the as-of date, but enrolled prior to the resubmission date for submission 1. 35
TEA's PEIMS Data Standards handbook allows districts to use and report a local student identification number. Student Data Submission Record 110, Enrollment data, includes a field, E0923, LOCAL-STUDENT-ID, which is an optional data element.
Many districts have expressed concerns about the difficulty in clearing student data errors when the district uses a local ID number, rather than a SSN or alternative ID number. If the LOCAL-STUDENT-ID is supplied, any student error messages will be printed with the local number. Allowing use and reporting of local student ID numbers might provide avenues for false reporting or efforts to "hide" low-performing students or dropouts, thus for the Record 203 School Leaver Data, districts must use the SSN or state-approved alternative ID numbers when reporting school leavers. 36
The submission of PEIMS student data, record type 110, Enrollment, includes a field E0919, column 45, for an "At-risk indicator code," to identify students at risk of dropping out of school. 37
School Leaver Data, Record Type 203, is the key record for identifying dropouts. School districts report those who fail to re-enroll in school using PEIMS record 203. This 203 record reporting includes all dropouts, graduates and other school "leavers" identified during the prior school year. If the Record 101 has an "As-of-Status-Code" of "0" indicating that the student was enrolled last year but not this year, and the student was in grades 7-12 the prior year, then a 203 school leaver record is required. This requirement includes students from special education and other special, ungraded, or state-approved alternative programs. 38
School leavers who have not been enrolled in the district during the current year will be reported on 203 records. A 203 school leaver record should be completed for all students who graduated; received a GED and are no longer pursuing a diploma; moved to a different district; transferred to a private school; transferred to a home school; died; fail to re-enroll in the fall; dropped out of school; as well as all for all other leaver codes. Students who were in grades pre-kindergarten through grade 6 in the prior school year are never reported on 203 records. A 203 record is not required for grades 7-12 students who were enrolled during the prior year and have been enrolled at some time during the current year (up to the resubmission deadline for Submission 1). 39
Districts do not make the final decision about who is a dropout. Instead, districts report all secondary students who leave school through PEIMS. TEA's statewide dropout record exclusion system then determines whether the reported dropout should be counted as such for accountability purposes. For accountability purposes, dropouts are counted only once and only for the year in which they first left school.
TEA applies the state-level dropout record exclusion system after the school leaver data are received from districts. This system identifies students reported as dropouts whose records can be "recovered" through data sources not available to the districts. Through the record exclusion process, TEA can identify transfers and GED recipients, those who were previously reported as Texas dropouts back to 1990-91 and graduates not known to the district. Excluded dropouts are not included in the state dropout count used for accountability purposes. 40
Dropout Rate Definitions
Dropout rates are based on the number of individuals in a given student population who drop out of school during a specified time period. However, a multitude of definitions of "dropout rate" exists because of differences in other definitions of a dropout; the student population under consideration; and the time period for counting dropouts. 41
In Texas, TEA has developed a statewide definition of "dropout" for accountability purposes, which is defined in the procedures for calculating dropout rates. The annual dropout rate in Texas is calculated by dividing the number of dropouts over a full school year by cumulative attendance that same year for Grades 7-12. Cumulative attendance is the count of all students reported in attendance during any six-week reporting period of a given school year. TEA reports annual dropout rates for students in Grades 7-12 based on this definition. 42
Texas now has enough years of student-level data to follow a group of students from 7th grade through 12th grade to determine an actual dropout rate over time, or longitudinal dropout rate. Actual longitudinal dropout rates for this grade span are calculated by counting all students whose final status in PEIMS is either as a first-time or repeat dropout, and dividing that total by the cumulative attendance in Grades 7-12. 43 For example, if the cumulative attendance in Grades 7-12 is 10,000 students, and 500 students are either first-time or repeat dropouts, the longitudinal dropout rate is 5 percent (500/10,000).
Calculation of Dropout Rates
When defining exemplary, recognized and unacceptable performance for academic excellence indicators involving dropout rates, the following students are not considered in calculating dropout rates:
- students who are expelled;
- students who have been convicted and sentenced; or
- students who are adjudicated, or pronounced delinquent by a court of law. 44
Based on the reasons provided by districts for each student's departure from school, a list of reported dropouts is generated. Students in the following categories are identified as dropouts in the state's integrated accountability system:
- a student who is absent without approved excuse or documented transfer and does not return to school by the fall of the following school year;
- a student who completes the school year but fails to re-enroll the following school year;
- a student who leaves school to enter the military before graduation;
- a student from a special education, ungraded or alternative education program who leaves school;
- a student who leaves school and enters a program not qualifying as an elementary / secondary school (for example, cosmetology school); or
- a student enrolled as a migrant, whose whereabouts are unknown.
Students whose records are coded with certain reasons for leaving a school district are not counted as dropouts for accountability purposes. Among the students who must be reported as "leavers" but are not included in the dropout count for accountability purposes are the following:
- A student who dies;
- A student showing regular attendance at a state-approved alternative program;
- A student enrolled as a migrant who subsequently has a school enrollment record;
- A student known to have transferred to another public or private school, an adult or alternative education program or home schooling;
- A student who leaves school to enroll in college early;
- A student transferred or assigned to another public institution or state-approved educational program; or
- A foreign student who leaves school to return to his or her home country. 45
According to TEA procedures, other types of absent students do not have to be reported:
- Students who leave school before 7th grade are excluded from the PEIMS reporting requirements, and
- Students who are absent for temporary periods with approved excuses do not need to be reported as leavers.
In 1990-91, TEA began an automated statewide process to exclude some reported dropouts from computations for accountability purposes. The process has expanded over the years. Under TEA procedures, a reported dropout's record is not counted for accountability purposes if the student:
- Has remained enrolled in public school somewhere in the state, according to school district attendance and enrollment information provided through PEIMS;
- Has received a General Educational Development (GED) certificate and appears on the GED information file by a specified date;
- Has graduated within the last year; or
- Was identified as a dropout at any time back to the 1990-91 school year. (For the purpose of the annual dropout rate, a student will be counted in the accountability system as a dropout only once in his or her lifetime, even if the student drops out repeatedly. For the longitudinal dropout rate, however, the student's final status - whether as a first-time or repeat dropout - will determine if he or she is counted as a dropout). 46 This decision was made to eliminate any accountability penalties to districts operating programs for recovered dropouts.
Reporting of Dropout Rates to Legislature and Public
TEA is required to report dropout rates to the Governor and Legislature in the agency's Comprehensive Biennial Report. The following dropout information is required in the report:
- a statement of the dropout rate of students in grades 7 through 12, expressed in the aggregate and by grade level;
- a statement of the projected cross-sectional and longitudinal dropout rates for grades 7 through 12 for the next five years, assuming no state action is taken to reduce the rates;
- a description of a systematic plan for reducing the projected dropout rates to 5 percent or less for the 1997-1998 school year (a change could be implemented to reflect goals outlined in Appropriations Act);
- student grade level retention data, or number of students retained in a grade, collected from school districts through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS). 47
In response to Section 39.182, TEA prepares the Report on Texas Public School Dropouts, which is available on its Web page at www.tea.state.tx.us/program.eval/dropout.html .