Research and Evaluation

Patterns and Trends of Student Attrition from PGCPS, A Cohort Analysis

Cecily Darden Adams



Student mobility can have a dramatic impact on elementary through secondary schooling, yet little was known about student attrition in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS). This study examined the trends and timing of student exits from PGCPS to better understand the characteristics of students who leave the school system, the schools they exited from, and their intended destinations. Overall, between 44 and 48 percent of students who were enrolled in 3rd grade in PGCPS left before their expected 12th grade school year for the SY2012 through SY2014 cohorts.  About one-third of students left the school district by 10th grade between the SY2012 and SY2016 cohorts (between 32 and 39 percent). Some evidence of selective attrition among students was found.  Findings from survival and regression analyses suggest that male students, African American and Hispanic students, students who were either above or below Proficient on the MSA, students receiving special services, and students who were truant posted lower risk of attrition than other students. Similarly, there was some evidence that students who attended schools with certain characteristics have less of a risk of attrition overall—elementary and middle schools relative to high schools, schools for special populations, schools that did not meet AYP in math, schools that are not high FARMS, and schools with high truancy.  The destinations indicated by students who left PGCPS before graduation appear to be relatively consistent across cohorts, with about 30 percent of students transferring to another public school within Maryland across cohort, and about 35 percent transferring to another public school in a state other than Maryland. However, the proportion of exiting students transferring to public schools in or outside Maryland drops sharply when the student are in high schools.  For students exiting the district after 8th grade, the proportions transferring to nonpublic schools and to a state institution were relatively high, about 10 percent each.

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    Approximately 85% of the respondents to the 2017  School Climate Survey perceive their schools as having a climate that is conducive to effective instruction and learning.




    More than 33,600 students, 9,000 parents, and 5,700 teachers participated in the 2017 School Climate Survey.