COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 64
September 18, 1998

ADMINISTRATIVE

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Report of Dropouts, 1997-98 School Year

 
  In order for the Department of Education to meet Commonwealth
  legislative reporting requirements, the 1997-98 Report of
  Dropouts must be completed for certain schools in your 
  division and is due in Richmond no later than Wednesday,
  November 4, 1998.Completed reports should be addressed to:

                        Mona N. Mallory
                 Management Information Systems
                Virginia Department of Education
                         P. O. Box 2120
                 Richmond, Virginia, 23218-2120

  The dropout report must be submitted by:

   1.   Schools that had membership in any of grades
          seven through twelve, and

   2.   Schools that had students age twelve or older (on
          January 1, 1998) in ungraded classrooms during
          the 1997-98 school year (e.g., self-contained
          special education classrooms or alternative
          education programs for which separate attendance
          registers were kept).

  The dropout report is not completed for vocational, technical,
  special education, or alternative education centers providing
  specialized instruction to students officially enrolled at 
  other schools.

  The statistics on dropouts will be made available to the Virginia
  General Assembly and the information will be included in the
  School Performance Report Card in January 1999.  Because of the
  short period of time we have in which to process and publish
  dropout statistics, any reports received before our stated due
  date will be sincerely appreciated.  If you have any questions or
  need additional information, please contact Mona N. Mallory (804)
  225-2099.


  PDS/dmb

  Enclosures:     A hard copy of this memo and its attachments
                  will be sent to the superintendent's
                  office. 

Table of Contents


INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING THE REPORT OF DROPOUTS . . . . . .1
   Who Must File a 1997-98 Dropout Report? . . . . . . . . . .1
   Who Does Not Need to File a 1997-98 Dropout Report? . . . .1
   What is the Definition of a Dropout?. . . . . . . . . . . .2

INSTRUCTIONS FOR FORM SA.087 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

REMINDERS CONCERNING THE BOARD OF EDUCATION ATTENDANCE
     REGULATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

SUMMARY OF PROCEDURES AND HELPFUL HINTS. . . . . . . . . . . .6


       INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING THE REPORT OF DROPOUTS
            1997-98 School Year Through Summer 1998


  Who Must File a 1997-98 Dropout Report?

   The 1997-98 Report of Dropouts is to be completed for each
  school that had membership in any of grades seven through 12. 
  Each school that had students age 12 or older in membership in
  ungraded classrooms, (e.g., self-contained special education
  classroom, alternative education program, etc. for which separate
  attendance registers were kept) must also file a dropout report
  with the Department of Education.


  Who Does Not Need to File a 1997-98 Dropout Report?

   If the school had no membership in grades 7 through 12 and
  all students in ungraded classrooms were less than 12 years of
  age on January 1, 1998, the school does not have to file the
  report.

   Special and alternative education programs and centers which
  did not file a Fall Membership Report (for September 30, 1997)
  with the Department of Education SHOULD NOT file a dropout
  report.  Dropout reporting for these students should parallel
  attendance and membership reporting.  For example, if a 12th
  grade student is counted in membership in Alpha High School,
  attends Beta Alternative Education Center, and then drops out of
  school, he/she should be counted as a dropout from Alpha High
  School.


  How Do We File The Report?

   Please use Form SA.087 (for 1997-98 school year) to file the
  dropout report.  These forms are preprinted with school names and
  numbers for those schools known to have students in grade 7 or
  above.  One report form, not preprinted with school number/name
  has been provided (which you may duplicate) for use by those
  schools (with grades below 7-12 or schools operating solely on
  the ungraded grade level) having ungraded students age 12 and
  above in membership.


    What is the Definition of a Dropout?

   A dropout is a student who leaves school before graduation
  for any reason other than death and fails to transfer to another
  school (i.e., public schools including alternative education
  programs as defined in the Standards of Quality and the
  Regulations of the Board of Education, private schools, hospital
  education programs or approved home instruction programs) or
  institution (i.e., state schools for the deaf and blind,
  correctional institutions or mental health/mental retardation
  institutions).  Students who are awarded certificates as
  described under Standard 4.E. of Standards of Quality for Public
  Schools in Virginia (SOQ) - July 1990, are considered to be
  graduates and consequently are not to be counted as dropouts.

   Regular term dropouts (W8s) who enroll in and complete
  summer school and return in the fall (by October 31) or graduate
  are not counted as dropouts.  Such students who complete summer
  school will be subtracted from the regular term worksheet. 
  Students who drop out during the regular term, complete summer
  school, but do not graduate and fail to return in the fall will
  be added to the summer dropout worksheet.

   Beginning in 1988-89, the reporting of dropouts was expanded
  to include pupils who are in membership on the last day of the
  regular school year but fail to return to school by October 31 of
  the following year for reasons other than transfer, death, or
  graduation.  These pupils are to be reported in addition to
  regular term dropouts, as defined above.

   To identify pupils who drop out between the last day of the
  regular school year and October 31 of the following school year,
  it is recommended that the Ten Day Report to the Superintendent
  and the list of children not enrolled be used (see Sections 22.
  1-260 and 22.1-261, Code of Virginia).  Only those pupils who 1.) 
  were in membership on the last day of school and did not return
  to school between the first day of school and October 31, or 2.) 
  were dropouts on the last day of the regular term but completed
  summer school are to be considered as potential summer dropouts. 
  If the summer withdrawal was for reasons other than transfer,
  death or graduation, the pupil is to be counted as a dropout from
  the school last attended and in the grade last attended.

   If a student was a dropout (W8) during the 1997-98 regular
  term, and did not complete summer school, but returned to school
  the following year, that student is to be reported as a dropout.


   If a student was in a GED program and failed the GED, but
  stayed in the program until the end of the school term, and fails
  to return to school the following year, that student is a summer
  dropout.  (See Informational Superintendent's Memorandum No. 134,
  June 22, 1988.)

   If a student was in an alternative education program and did
  not graduate but stayed in the program until the end of the
  school term and fails to return to school the following year,
  that student is a summer dropout.

   If a regular term dropout completes summer school and
  consequently is subtracted from the number of regular term
  dropouts, then fails to return to school in the fall, that
  student should be counted as a summer dropout.

   Regardless of the circumstances, no student should be
  counted as a dropout more than once in any annual dropout
  reporting cycle.  When a student is a W8 in the Fall and again in
  the Spring, the student is a dropout only once.  When a dropout
  is in both graded and ungraded classes, the student should be
  recorded only once.


  INSTRUCTIONS FOR FORM SA.087

   At the top of the form, check to make sure all pre-printed
  information (division and school name and number) is correct. 
  Make corrections if necessary.  If pre-printed information is not
  present,  enter your 3-digit school division number, school
  division name, 4-digit school number and school name.


  Section 1., Lines 1-6

   Report dropouts by grade, gender and race/ethnic category
  using the definitions provided below:

   American Indian or Alaskan Native - A person having origins
     (ancestry) in any of the original peoples of North America,
     who maintains cultural identification through tribal
     affiliation or community recognition.

   Asian or Pacific Islander - A person having origins
     (ancestry) in any of the original peoples of the Far East,
     Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, or the Indian
     subcontinent.  Included, for example, are peoples of China,
     Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands, Samoa, and India.

   Black, not of Hispanic Origin - A person having origins
     (ancestry) in any of the black racial groups of Africa.

   Hispanic - A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central
     or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin
     (ancestry), regardless of race.

   White, not of Hispanic Origin - A person having origins
     (ancestry) in any of the original peoples of Europe, North
     Africa, or the Middle East.


  Section 2., Lines 1-8

   Report dropouts by grade, sex and primary reason for
  dropping out using the definitions provided below.  Individual
  students should be reported as a dropout only once.

   Achievement problems (low achievement, low motivation, low
     interest, etc.)

   Behavioral difficulties (suspension or expulsion,
     incarceration, runaway, truancy, poor relationships with
     peers or adults, etc.)

   Health problems (physical or mental illness, injury,
     substance abuse, etc.)

   Family (pregnancy, parenthood, marriage, needed at home,
     etc.)

   Financial hardship (extreme poverty, working to support self
     or family, etc.)

   Employment (took a job, joined armed forces, entered Job
     Corps or similar program, etc.)

   Moved (no longer resides in the area and current status is
     unknown after appropriate investigation by the attendance
     officer.)


  Section 3., Lines 1-6

   For each ethnic category as listed, report the number of
  dropouts who were classified as ungraded students and were 
  age 14 or above as of January 1, 1998.


  Section 4., Lines 1-6

   On lines 1 through 4, report numbers of dropouts as
  appropriate.

   On line 5, report the end-of-year membership of all special
  education students in grades 7-12 including ungraded special
  education students ages 12 or older as of January 1, 1998.

   On line 6, report dropouts from the prior reporting year who
  return any time during the current reporting year.


     REMINDERS CONCERNING THE BOARD OF EDUCATION ATTENDANCE
                          REGULATIONS

  (VIRGINIA TEACHER'S REGISTER OR AN APPROVED AUTOMATED ATTENDANCE
                            SYSTEM) 


   Regular term dropouts are identified using the withdrawal
  code W8 from the Virginia Teacher's Register or an approved
  automated attendance system. Remember that W9 withdrawals who do
  not return to school by the end of the regular school year are to
  be recoded to W8s, if appropriate, and reported as dropouts. 
  Note that W9s should be carefully examined to determine whether
  they should be recoded to a withdrawal code other than W8.

   A student enrolled in school who passes the GED and
  withdraws from school should be coded in the Virginia Teacher's
  Register or an approved automated attendance system as a W and
  is not considered a dropout.  The W code is being used during
  the GED Pilot Program (See Informational Superintendent's
  Memorandum No. 134, June 22, 1988).

   The Virginia Teacher's Register or your approved automated
  attendance system must reflect a student's status on the last day
  of school.  If the student's status on the Virginia Teacher's
  Register as of the last day of school is W8, that status is not
  affected by returning to summer school or by returning to school
  the following year.  Only those events occurring prior to or on
  the last day of school may be used in determining the coding of
  the official regular term attendance record.

   Please note that special and alternative education students
  are to be reported by grades when grade designations are
  available and appropriate.  The ungraded education category for
  dropouts should be used only when attendance for the dropout was
  reported in an ungraded rather than a graded classroom.


  SUMMARY OF PROCEDURES AND HELPFUL HINTS


  1.    REPORTS ARE DUE IN RICHMOND ON NOVEMBER 4, 1998

   It is important that we adhere to this due date.  Dropout
     data are needed by Department of Education staff and members
     of the Virginia General Assembly to plan and develop budgets
     and programs before the start of the legislative session in
     January.  Dropout statistics will be reported on the School
     Performance Report Card in January 1999.  The Department's
     short processing period for this report also coincides with
     the Thanksgiving holidays.  We must receive, enter, edit,
     and verify dropout data before the start of the winter
     holidays.  We expect to be able to publish these statistics
     in December.  Please know that if you are able to file your
     reports in advance of our stated due date, this will be
     sincerely appreciated.


  2.    WHO MUST REPORT?

   The Report of Dropouts, 1997-98 School Year, must be
     completed for each of your schools that had membership in
     any of grades seven through twelve or had students age
     twelve or older (on January 1, 1998) in ungraded classrooms
     (e.g., self-contained special education classrooms or
     alternative education programs for which separate attendance
     registers were kept) during the 1997-98 school year.  The
     form should not be completed for vocational/technical,
     special education, or alternative education centers that
     provide specialized instruction or training of students
     officially enrolled at other schools.  We are providing you
     with pre-printed forms for each of your schools having a 7th
     or higher grade (according to our records).  Return all of
     these forms, even if you had zero dropouts!  Additional
     forms, not preprinted, are also enclosed for your use in
     reporting students age 12 or older, who may be enrolled in
     ungraded classrooms in schools not having a 7th or higher
     grade or schools operating solely on the ungraded grade
     level. 


  3.    RE:  END OF YEAR (EOY) MEMBERSHIP DATA

   End of year membership statistics are used to calculate
     school and division level dropout rates.  These statistics
     are now reported to the Department of Education on Table 6
     of the Annual School Report - Statistical Section.


  4.    MOST ERRORS WE DISCOVER ARE COMPUTATIONAL

   We check row and column addition, and when we find
     discrepancies, we must request you to review your original
     submission, and then resubmit one or more report forms. 
     Otherwise, we have no way of knowing whether the column/row
     totals were incorrectly computed, or whether incorrect data
     were entered above or to the left of a correct total. 
     Additionally, please note that for each dropout reported,
     you must report a reason.  The relationship between these
     two sections of the report is such that each column total in
     Section 1. MUST EQUAL the corresponding column total in
     Section 2.  The time taken to "proof" your school reports
     before they are submitted will be time well spent, and
     eliminate the need to review, resubmit and verify
     corrections.


  5.    SHOULD SCHOOLS MAIL THEIR REPORTS DIRECTLY TO THE
        DEPARTMENT?

   We would prefer they did not.  All school level reports
     should be shipped together, in one package, to the
     Department of Education.  The reports should be reviewed for
     completeness and accuracy prior to shipment, and a copy of
     each report should be maintained by the school division's
     dropout report contact person.  Following these steps should
     significantly reduce the number of errors that are
     encountered, and speed the resolution of those that are
     discovered.