The Consolidated Data Report, which was recently released by the state Department of Public Instruction and included school crime statistics, included a dropout report for grades seventh through 13th. All of the area’s school systems’ dropout rates increased in trend with the rest of the state, but one local system remained among the lowest rates out of the 115 systems.
“We had the 10th lowest dropout rate of any system in the state,” reported Dr. Todd Martin, superintendent of Yadkin County Schools. That didn’t include charter schools’ rates, just the 115 school systems.
“We are doing a better job of talking to the kids and keeping them in school,” he said of efforts which he credits for the low number of those not graduating. “We are doing a better job of offering them courses and options that will interest them. We are working closely with Surry Community College to bring college courses to Yadkin County for our high school students to take, and we offer virtual courses.
“So our graduation rate is going up, and the dropout rate is one of the best in the state,” Martin said.
Yadkin County Schools saw a rate of .79 for the 2014-15 school year, equalling 21 students, just a slight increase over the 19 students and .71 rate for 2013-14. In 2012-13, Yadkin’s rate was 1.43, and the year prior to that it was 1.86.
Elkin City Schools had a rate in 2014-15 of 1.03, equalling six students, an increase over the rate of .88, or five students in 2013-14. For a small system, just one or two students can adjust the rate greatly.
Surry County Schools’ rate increased just slightly as well to 1.43 or 58 students, over the 2013-14 rate of 1.38, or 56 students.
Wilkes County Schools had a 1.78 dropout rate for 2014-15 or 85 students, an increase over the previous year’s 1.15 rate, or 54 students.
The dropout rate is not the same as the four-year cohort graduation rate, which follows a group of students as they progress from ninth through 12th grade. Instead the dropout rate is for one school year, explained information from DPI.
“The annual dropout rate illustrates the number and percentage of students who drop out during one year’s time,” explained a release on the report. “Some of these students may return to school the following year and complete high school while others may drop out multiple times. The four-year cohort graduation rate is considered a more comprehensive picture of the issue of students’ persistence and high school completion.”
Statewide, the dropout rate rose to 2.39 percent from 2.28 percent the prior year. According to the DPI, the increase of .11 was the first increase in the rate since the 2006-07 school year, when the rate increased from 5.04 to 5.24.
“In 2014-15, 11,190 students dropped out of school as opposed to the 10,404 students the previous year,” DPI reported.
“My top goal since I took office hasn’t changed: a 100 percent graduation rate,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson in the DPI release. “A high school diploma is the minimum requirement students must meet to land a job that will lead them into a successful career. I plan to work closely with department staff and local superintendents to determine possible reasons behind the increase and ways to reverse the trend.”
DPI reported other key findings in the 2014-15 Consolidated Data Report include:
• Students dropped out most frequently at 10th grade (30 percent), followed by ninth grade (28.1 percent).
• The number of high school students dropping out increased at all grade levels and for all ethnic groups except Asian, which decreased.
• Males accounted for 62 percent of reported dropouts, which was down from the 62.7 percent reported last year.
• Attendance issues were again the reason most often cited for dropping out, accounting for 40.3 percent of all dropouts. Enrollment in a community college came in second at 15.8 percent.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.