Dropout Rate Is Steady
Moore County's school dropout rate remained unchanged during the 2007-2008 school year.
For the second consecutive year, Moore County posted a rate of 4.29 percent. According to the latest statistics, 172 students dropped out of school last year, compared to 173 in 2006-2007.
Superintendent Susan Purser said that while Moore County is slightly below the state rate of 4.97 percent, the ultimate goal is to eliminate dropouts altogether.
"One dropout is too many," she said. "We recognize that when a student leaves school early, it creates a void. It's disappointing to us."
Moore County's dropout rate has increased over the course of the past several years. Purser said she has made it a priority to make data collection tools more precise.
"We really believe in being honest with what we have," she said. "We ensure that data collection and reporting is accurate."
Purser said a big reason the rate has increased can be attributed to the fact that the school system "has gotten better" with reporting and that the requirements for students to complete high school have increased in recent years. She said students who find themselves caught in the middle of those changes may give up easier.
"That's something that happens when you increase standards," she said.
The statewide rate fell from 5.27 percent last year. About 1,116 fewer students across the state dropped out compared to last year. Overall, 22,434 students of the 450,000 North Carolina high school students dropped out in 2007-2008.
This was the state's first decrease since 2004-2005.
"This is good news for North Carolina," State Superintendent June Atkinson said. "Local schools are using all of the tools available to help students stay in school. The credit for this success goes to local educators for finding ways to re-engage students, and to students and their families for recognizing the need to stay in school."
Atkinson noted that decreases in the annual dropout rate should lead to increases over the next few years in the four-year cohort graduation rate -- the number of students who graduate from high school four years after entering ninth grade. The four-year graduation rate in 2007-2008 was 70.3 percent.
Dropout data have been collected each year since 1988-1989, although specific reporting methods changed in 1991 to conform to new federal guidelines and in 1999 because of changes in the state's definition of a dropout. For the annual dropout rate calculation, a dropout is defined as a student who:
n was enrolled in school at some time during the school year, which is the reporting year;
n was not enrolled on day 20 of the current school year;
n has not graduated from high school or completed a state or district approved education program; and
n does not meet any of the following reporting exclusions: transferred to another public school district, private school, home school or state/district approved educational program; temporarily absent due to suspension or school-approved illness; or death.
According to the state, students most frequently drop out in ninth or 10th grades. Males accounted for 59.7 percent of dropouts. American Indian, Hispanic and African-American students were over-represented in the 2007-2008 dropout rates.
Students report a variety of reasons for dropping out, but attendance is the most-often reported reason (48 percent) and enrollment in a community college program is second (16 percent). Academic problems are a distant third (7.2 percent).
Purser said the school system remains focused on finding ways to curb dropouts.
"I look forward to that dropout rate disappearing," she said.
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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