The Locker Room

Dropout rates and other mysteries

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 12:55 PM

The media will report that the dropout rate increased from 4.74 percent in 04-05 to 5.04 percent in 05-06. This is true, and it represents a loss of nearly 23,000 students from our public schools last year.

But there is a problem. The number of students who dropped out to attend a community college is responsible for much (38 percent) of the increase. Moreover, in 2003 the number of students in this category unexpectedly skyrocketed, while other categories, namely students with academic problems, began to decline. To complicate matters, the governor's Learn and Earn program, which put high school students on community college campuses, began in 2003. Is there a connection? I will find out.

While I am on the subject, DPI staff (3 people) did not have a clue about any of this. It is good to know that they are not willing to go the extra mile and ask obvious questions. Geez.

Here are dropout rates (percentage of students who dropped out of grades 9-12) from notable counties:

Wake County: 3.88 (3.66 last year)
Charlotte-Mecklenburg: 4.61 (3.14 last year)
Guilford: 3.41 (2.98 last year)
W-S/Forsyth: 5.74 (5.00 last year)
Lee County: 7.8 (7.20 last year)

P.S. This is not related to the cohort (4 year) graduation rate that the SBE planned to release today. As usual, the release of those figures has been delayed.

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