SCHOOL drop-out rates have fallen significantly as nine in 10 pupils stay on to do the Leaving Certificate.
An all-time high of slightly more than 90pc of teenagers are now completing second-level education, up from 82pc a decade ago.
New figures paint a particularly heartening picture of improved school completion rates by those most likely to leave early -- boys and pupils in disadvantaged areas.
About 88pc of teen boys are now sitting the Leaving Cert, up from about 72pc 10-11 years ago, according to latest data from the Department of Education.
Schools in the DEIS scheme for disadvantaged pupils have seen a jump from 68pc to 80pc in those staying on over the past decade. The latest Report on Retention Rates of Pupils in Second Level Schools covers those who started in first year in 2005 and 2006 and who sat the Leaving Cert between 2010 and 2012.
The economic downturn has played a big role in the improved retention rates because jobs in areas such as retail or construction have dried up.
Extra supports provided for schools in disadvantaged areas are also getting credit for the boost in pupil retention rates at secondary schools.
According to latest figures, 89pc of young males are completing their second-level education, compared with 92pc of females. Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA) general secretary, Michael Moriarty, said: "If ever there was a signal to government of the value of investment in education, then this report does just that."