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Washington State Institute for Public Policy
November 2009
The report represents the latest analysis in an ongoing study to investigate educational outcomes for foster youth. While the Institute has conducted previous analyses on the educational attainment of foster youth, this is this first report to compare these outcomes using the standard, federal definitions of dropout and graduation rates. Based on this methodology, we found:

• Approximately 70 percent of high school students in Washington State graduate on time. About 30-40 percent of foster youth in placement for at least half of the school year graduate after four years in high school.

• The statewide annual dropout rate for high schoolers in Washington State ranges between 5 and 6 percent. Between 8 and 13 percent of foster youth with a long-term (full-year) placement drop out of high school.

• Foster youth with longer-term placements (360 days or more during the school year) have lower dropout rates and higher graduation rates compared with foster youth with short-term placements during high school.
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