DROPOUT RATE SHOWS SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT
The state dropout rate improved by a slim percentage in 1996-97, representing an additional 314 students who stayed in school as compared to 1995-96. The 1996-97 dropout data, released today, showed an annual dropout rate statewide of 3.71 percent, or 19,730 students leaving school.
In 1995-96, that rate was 3.78 percent (20,044). In 1994-95, the rate was also 3.78 (19,987).
State Superintendent Mike Ward said he was concerned that any students were choosing to drop out. The dropout rate of minority students, including Native Americans, is a particular concern, Ward said, although the overall dropout rate and numbers have continued to show a small downward trend.
"I believe that most young people and their families are getting the message that staying in school and completing their education is essential. There is no substitute for the educational foundation that students build in high school," Ward said. "We need to ensure that this message reaches all students and their families."
The dropout numbers reported here are for grades 7-12 in the public schools. These numbers are based on the calculation method required by the National Center for Education Statistics. This method includes students who may have dropped out during a previous year. A student is counted as a dropout only once during a year (reporting cycle), but is counted every time s/he returns and then drops out during a different year (reporting cycle).
North Carolina also releases unduplicated figures, also included in the attached chart. A more comprehensive report of dropout data, including racial breakdowns, will be available in late March.
Efforts to accurately calculate the dropout rate and to address the problem intensified in the mid-1980s when state dropout prevention funds were appropriated for the first time. Local dropout prevention coordinators and other educators work to address a variety of issues that influence students' decisions about staying in school. Efforts including addressing substance abuse, involving parents, integrating counseling into the school curriculum, scheduling classes that meet the needs of working students, referring students to appropriate community agencies for assistance and offering health clinics.
Major reasons that students drop out are: attendance-related reasons, such as family responsibilities and work; choice of work over school; and academic difficulties.
For more information, please contact, Section Chief, Effective Practices, 919.807.3949
About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.