High school dropout rate in decline

According to the data, schools in the Arab sector are more successful at preventing dropouts.

High school graduates celebrate receiving their diplomas in Kafr Yasif last year. (photo credit: SPERO SALAM)
High school graduates celebrate receiving their diplomas in Kafr Yasif last year.
(photo credit: SPERO SALAM)
High school dropout rates have declined significantly between 2003 and 2017, according to a new study by the Taub Center.
Conducted by researchers Guy Yanay, Hadas Fuchs and Nachum Blass, the study – which was released to coincide with the start of the 2019/20 academic year – says that rates in grades 10-12 dropped from almost 10% in the 2003 school year to less than 8% in 2017.
The dropout rates among students in the academic track in high school, which was already low, did not experience a significant decrease. However, in the technology track, the decrease was far more substantial, dropping from from 9.5% in 2003 to about 5.5% in 2017. This amounts to nearly halving the dropout rate over the decade.
This trend in the technology track has been evident since the middle of the decade, and is significant because it now provides options for social mobility, just as the academic track does. However, there is variation in the rates of the different technology tracks, with the high technology track dropping from 4.5% in 2006 to only 1.5% in 2017; the medium track dropping from 11% to 7%; and the lowest track dropping from 28% to 19%.
The trend of declining dropout rates continued in the Arab sector. According to the study, rates have dropped from 15% to 8%. However, those among Arabs in the academic track are twice as high as the Hebrew sector, while their rates in technology tracks are lower.
A closer examination shows that declining dropout rates in the Arab sector are not related to education, but to the socioeconomic background of the family.
The study also revealed that the dropout rates for boys declined from 11% to 7% and for girls from 6% to 3.5%. In addition, Socioeconomic background is shown to play a more significant role than geographic location for determining dropout rates, though the Arab sector in the Tel Aviv district is an exception to this, as the dropout rate is significantly higher even when controlling for other factors.
It’s interesting to note that according to the data, schools in the Arab sector are more successful at preventing dropouts. Furthermore, the dropout rate among new immigrants is notably high (9%), especially for those who immigrated after the age of 12 (20%), while rates among immigrants from a younger age dropped from 10% to 6%. This phenomenon isn’t unique to Israel, and is well-known in countries around the world.
The researchers say that, “the past few years have seen a considerable improvement in high school dropout rates. The continuous decline in the dropout rate from technological education may indicate that it is giving its students equal value to academic track education in terms of opportunities for higher education and integration into the labor market. We have also seen a narrowing of gaps between students in Hebrew education and Arab education, although the dropout phenomenon is still present primarily among weaker population groups.”
In addition, the researchers also suggested a few possibilities to help reduce dropout rates even further, including programs targeted for new immigrants – which is especially important, considering the amount of olim entering the Israeli school system for the first time.
Taub Center president Prof. Avi Weiss added: “The education system has the ability to give students from different socioeconomic backgrounds an opportunity to attain human capital skills needed for the future labor market; technology education is an important portion of this effort. Special attention should be paid to population groups with relatively high dropout rates, especially new immigrants to Israel.”