School Performance

Measures of School Performance

Measures of school performance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). These include graduation rates, dropout rates, and percentile scores.

Percentile scores

  • The school percentile, between 1 (lowest) and 99 (highest), is an indication of the school’s overall performance relative to other schools that serve the same or similar grades.
  • The percentile score is based on four years of data, and is constructed by DESE using test score in English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science and (in the case of high schools) graduation and drop-out rates.
  • For these comparisons with similar-income cites, individual school percentile scores have been averaged for elementary, middle and high schools in each city, and a composite measure computed that equally weights each of the three types of schools.

A measure of overall performance

In an overall measure of school performance that combines DESE percentile scores across school types, Haverhill ranks lowest among the six Gateway Cities within $5,000 of Haverhill’s median household income.

Elementary Schools

Haverhill elementary schools perform below those in similar-income Gateway Cities.

Little recent improvement in Haverhill elementary school percentiles.

Middle Schools

Haverhill middle schools perform near those of several similar-income Gateway  Cities.

Haverhill middle schools showed improved percentile scores from 2012 to 2015.

Performance has trended downward in Consentino School.High School

Haverhill High School has the lowest percentile score among similar-income Gateway Cities.

Haverhill High has remained in the lowest 20 percent of Massachusetts high schools and declined by 5 percentile points over the 2012-2016 period.

Graduation rates

Graduation rates can be measured several ways. The four-year cohort graduation rate percentage of students entering 9th grade who graduate within four years, not counting those who later transfer in.  Haverhill’s graduation rate is below that of the benchmarks by 5 to 12 percentage points.

Haverhill’s graduation rate is the lowest among similar-income Gateway Cities.

Among the Gateway Cities, Haverhill’s graduation rate is closer to those of cities with income lower than Haverhill, than to the similar income cities.

Since 2009, Haverhill’s graduation rate has remained below that of benchmark cities and is 12 percentage points below similar-income Gateway Cities.

Dropout rates

DESE reports several measures of dropout rates. For purposes of assessing success at getting students through high school, the four-year dropout rate covering grades 9-12 is appropriate. The adjusted measure excludes those who transfers in. Another common measure is the annual dropout rate, sometimes reported by grade or for all grades 1 to 12. Depending on the years and grades reported, annual dropout rates will typically be much lower, as they only cover one year, may apply to one grade, and may report on lower grades where dropouts are less common.

Haverhill’s adjusted four-year cohort dropout rate is above the average of Gateway Cities and more than three twice the average of similar-income Gateway Cities.

Haverhill’s four-year dropout rate is the highest among the six Gateways Cities most similar to Haverhill in median household income.

Haverhill’s dropout rate is typical of Gateway cities with lower levels of median household income.

Haverhill’s four-year dropout rate remains high, while the rates in other cites have declined substantially.


Data Sources

  • U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2011-2015 five-year estimates.
  • Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, School and District Profiles, 2016, 2017. Accountability Reports, 2016 and earlier. Graduation Rate Reports 2016 and earlier. School percentile scores are available here: School Percentile Scores. The school benchmark figures above are constructed by averaging the percentile scores for reporting schools of similar grade levels (high school, middle school, elementary); the composite measure across school grade levels is constructed to give equal weight to high school, middle school, and elementary school performance.  Four-year adjusted graduation and dropout rates are accessible by selecting report type, year, rate type, and student group here: DESE Graduation Rate Report. The figures above are for district level, four-year adjusted rates for all students. Benchmarks are simple averages of cities in the corresponding group, giving equal weight to each city.