Trends in the High School Dropout Phenomenon
Author: Guy Yanay, Hadas Fuchs, Nachum Blass Policy Briefs

High school dropout rates in Israel have declined considerably in recent years. Nonetheless, dropout rates are still high among particularly vulnerable groups like immigrants and students from weak socioeconomic backgrounds

Among students from 10th to 12th grade, the dropout rate declined from almost 10% in the 2003 school year to less than 8% in 2017. Excluding Haredi schools, where a large portion of the students move to yeshivas not under Ministry of Education supervision, the dropout rate declined even more: from about 9% to almost 5.5%.

Dropout rates by study tracks

The decline in dropout rates among students in the academic track in high school – where rates were low to begin with – was relatively small, while in the technology tracks, there was a substantial decline: the dropout rate was almost halved in a decade – from 9.5% in 2003 to 5.5% in 2017.

  • In the high technology track, rates have dropped from a high of 4.5%, in 2006, to only 1.5%, in 2017 – a rate that is even lower than in the academic track.
  • In the medium technology track, the rate decreased from 11% to 7%.
  • The lowest technology track, saw the greatest decline in dropouts, from 28% to 19%.These trends show that, unlike in the past, technological education today gives its students similar opportunities for social mobility as academic track education.

    Dropout rates by sector and gender

    There has been a considerable decline in the dropout rate in the Arab education sector, from 15% to 8% between 2003 and 2017. Nonetheless, the rate is still higher for both boys and girls in Arab education than in Hebrew education.
    Dropout rate by education sector

  • Dropout rates in the high technology track in the Arab sector stand at only 1% and are lower than in the high technology track in the Hebrew sector.
  • Boys in Arab education have dropout rates that are 3 times higher than girls in the sector.
  • In 2017, the dropout rate among girls in Arab education was almost 5% versus 3% among girls in Hebrew education. Among boys, the differences are even greater: about 11.5% in Arab education versus 5% in Hebrew education.

    Dropout rates by socioeconomic status and geography

    As would be expected, the dropout rate rises as the school Nurture Index rises (a higher Nurture Index indicates a student body of lower socioeconomic status) in both sectors. However, there are no substantial differences in dropout rates in different geographic regions of the country, at least when controlling for socioeconomic background factors.

  • Arab education schools at the lowest Nurture Index ranking (highest socioeconomic ranking) had a dropout rate of only 2%, while the rate in the same schools in Hebrew education was 4.5%.
  • In Hebrew education schools at the highest Nurture Index ranking (with the weakest socioeconomic ranking), the dropout rate was 8.5%. Among Arab students with a similar profile, the rate was only 6%.
  • There are large differences in dropout rates in Arab education across geographic regions but, when controlling for socioeconomic background factors, these disparities are smaller and become non-significant in explaining the dropout rate. An exception is Arab education in the Tel Aviv district, where the dropout rate is 8.5 percentage points higher than in Hebrew education.

    Dropout rates among immigrants

    Among immigrants, and especially those who immigrated after the age of 12, dropout rates remain particularly high.

    • The dropout rate for new immigrants is over 9%, compared to 3% among Israel-born students.
    • The dropout rate for those who immigrated after the age of 12 remains high at 20%, while the rate is declining for those who immigrated at a younger age – from 10% to 6% between 2008 and 2017.Recent years have seen a considerable improvement in high school dropout rates overall as well as narrowing gaps between students in Hebrew education and Arab education. However this phenomenon is still present among weaker population groups, and should be addressed through innovative and targeted programs for these groups.