rss dropout rate up

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Holly Fesperman LeeSalisbury Post
The Rowan-Salisbury School System’s dropout rate increased almost 27 percent from 2006 to 2007.
Three-hundred-eighty students dropped out last school year. That’s 80 more than left school during the 2005-2006 academic year, according to the Annual Dropout Event Report presented to the State Board of Education on Thursday.
Compared to the total school population, the dropout rate for the Rowan-Salisbury system is neither the highest nor the lowest when compared to surrounding school districts.
Rowan-Salisbury’s overall dropout rate was 5.47 percent for the 2006-2007 school year. The previous year, the rate was 4.37 percent.
The highest dropout rate in surrounding systems last school year belonged to Kannapolis City Schools at 6.77 percent. The Iredell-Statesville district had the lowest rate at 4.52 percent.
Stanly county’s dropout rate experienced the most change last school year with a 36.2 percent increase. Rowan-Salisbury was next in line with the nearly 27 percent increase.
Mooresville City Schools claimed the only dropout rate decrease of surrounding systems, going from 5.55 percent to 4.96 percent.
In a press release, Rowan-Salisbury School System officials expressed disappointment with the rate increase, noting that the system’s rate had been in steady decline since 2003.
“But efforts will continue to keep students in school,” the release said.
According to the release, school officials will focus heavily on individual school attendance, the top factor in students dropping out of school.
“Attendance counselors work diligently to contact students with issues and to arrange conferences with parents. Focusing on student attendance, particularly in the elementary and middle school years, helps to build positive school habits that will follow students into their high school years,” the release said.
Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom wrote in the release that “parents need to make sure their children are at school every day, ready to learn, communicate constantly with their children’s teacher.”
School officials will also continue the following initiatives to combat the dropout rate:
– Remediation programs in elementary and middle school that focus on individual student needs.
– High School Guide Books that present a more clear and concise list of increased requirements for graduation to better inform and prepare students and parents.
– Intervention specialists who will continue to provide individual counseling for at risk students.
– Learn and Earn Early College, a high school that will open on the campus of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. Students will graduate with a high school diploma and up to two years of college transfer credit or an associate’s degree.
– The Upward Bound Program through Livingstone College, which will help 50 high school students complete high school and follow a college-preparatory curriculum.
– The Alternative School Task Force, which is developing recommendations to improve the system’s alternative school.
The dropout rate increased across the state last year.
A total of 23,550 students, or 5.24 percent, dropped out of grades 9-12 during the 2006-2007 academic year. That’s up from 22,180 students ó and a 5.04 percent dropout rate ó in the previous school year.
A state press release attributes the elevated state average to large increases in a handful of school districts.
According to the release, 43 percent of the state’s 115 school districts reported a decrease in dropout rates.Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or hlee@salisburypost.com.

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