Pupils who have been excluded from primary education, have poor attendance or special educational needs are more likely to be "off-rolled", new analysis by FFT Education Datalab has found.
Looking at the 557,000 state-school pupils who entered Year 7 in 2010, statistician Dave Thomson found over 4,000 had been permanently excluded by the end of key stage 4.
Almost 7,000 spent time in alternative provision (AP) without being permanently excluded but remained on-roll at a state school, while a further 6,000 were in AP and left state school rolls.
A further 18,500 left the state-funded school sector without being permanently excluded – a controversial practice known as "off-rolling" – although some may have entered private schools or left the country.
Mr Thomson found that these pupils tend to be male, have low attendance rates in Years 5 and 6 and were more likely to have been excluded while at primary school.
Students who have moved around during the primary years or were identified with SEND at primary school were also more likely to leave the state sector.
They were also more likely to have poor attainment in KS2 and be eligible for free school meals.
Travellers with Irish heritage were 11 times more likely to leave the state sector than white British pupils, while those with Roma background were six times more likely.
Off-rolling has hit the headlines this year as concerns have grown about the increasing numbers of students leaving the school roll but not necessarily through formal exclusion procedures.
In June, Ofsted said it had identified 300 schools with particularly high levels of off-rolling.
The Department for Education also launched an investigation in March into why Black Caribbean boys, children with autism and those eligible for free school meals are more likely to be excluded.
But Mr Thomson cautioned against reading too much into the figures by themselves.
“You cannot predict with any certainty which pupils are likely to experience [permanent exclusion, placement in AP or departure from the state-funded sector] on the basis of their characteristics and prior attainment,” he said.