High School Dropout Rates in Colorado

Apr 15
High school dropout rates in Colorado have been a longstanding concern, with significant implications for individual students and broader society. This blog post aims to explore the specific challenges faced by Colorado youth, delve into the latest statistics on dropout rates and graduation rates from the Colorado Department of Education, and discuss how targeted interventions such as social emotional learning (SEL) and substance misuse prevention education can help mitigate these issues. Drawing on research studies and academic databases, we will examine the effectiveness of these interventions in improving student outcomes and reducing dropout rates.

Understanding High School Dropout Rates in Colorado

According to data from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), the statewide dropout rate in the 2020-2021 school year was 2.5%, representing a 0.3% increase from the previous year. Additionally, graduation rates in Colorado have fluctuated over the years, with the most recent data indicating a graduation rate of 83.7% for the 2020-2021 school year. In Denver Public Schools, the dropout rate in the 2020-21 school year was 2.4%, and in Westminster Public Schools, the dropout rate was 3.4%. These statistics highlight the ongoing challenge of dropout prevention in these areas and the need for targeted interventions to support at-risk students.

The Impact of Social Emotional Learning

Research studies have consistently demonstrated the positive impact of SEL programs on student outcomes. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology found that students who participated in SEL programs showed an 11% improvement in academic achievement compared to their peers who did not receive SEL instruction (Durlak et al., 2011). Moreover, SEL interventions have been shown to reduce dropout rates by fostering resilience, emotional regulation, and positive social relationships among students.

In YESS Institute Classrooms, students who improve SEL scores also show significant improvements in academic outcomes and attendance rates, as well as fewer behavioral referrals. Additionally, in the last several years, YESS has seen a 100% graduation rate in its students. YESS also ensures that all of its students have a post-secondary plan in place for success in school, career, and life after graduation.

Substance Misuse Awareness Education

Substance misuse remains a significant risk factor for dropout among high school students. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 20% of high school seniors in Colorado reported vaping nicotine in the past month, highlighting the urgent need for prevention efforts ("Monitoring the Future Survey," 2021). YESS Academy's substance misuse prevention curriculum equips students with the knowledge and skills to make healthy choices and resist peer pressure. By addressing substance misuse within the broader context of mental health and wellness, these programs play a critical role in reducing dropout risk and promoting student well-being.

Building Resilience and Academic Success

By integrating SEL and substance misuse prevention education into school curricula, educators can create a supportive learning environment that fosters student engagement and academic success. SEL programs teach students essential life skills such as self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making, which are foundational for academic achievement and long-term success. Additionally, substance misuse prevention education empowers students to make informed choices and develop healthy coping mechanisms, thereby reducing the likelihood of dropout and substance abuse.


As Colorado continues its efforts to address high school dropout rates, evidence-based interventions such as social emotional learning and substance misuse prevention education offer promising avenues for support. By leveraging these programs to enhance student well-being, build resilience, and foster academic success, we can create a brighter future for Colorado's youth. YESS Academy remains committed to providing comprehensive support to students, families, and schools, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to promote student success and reduce dropout risk.


  • Colorado Department of Education. (2021). Dropout and Graduation Statistics.
  • Durlak, J. A., et al. (2011). The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 32(1), 1-14.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth Trends.