02/06/09 — Dropout rate up 1 percent in Wayne

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Dropout rate up 1 percent in Wayne

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 6, 2009 12:57 PM

The student dropout rate in Wayne County is higher than the state average -- up 1.1 percent for 2007-08 for grades 9-12.

Overall, North Carolina experienced its first decline in its dropout rate in three years in 2007-08. Officials attributed the decrease to high school reform and local intervention efforts.

The State Board of Education released the information Thursday, showing the state dropout rate fell to 4.97 percent, compared to 5.24 percent the previous year.

In Wayne County, the reverse was true.

Wayne County's rate was 4.16 percent, up 1.1 percent from the previous year. School officials noted it was down from the 2005-06 rate, which was 5.7 percent.

Efforts across the state have been made to shore up the educational systems, Dr. June Atkinson, superintendent of public instruction, said in a news release.

"Local schools are using all of the tools available to help students stay in school," she said.

Initiatives such as Gov. Easley's Learn and Earn and early college programs are among those Wayne County has also touted as being successful in keeping students in school.

"As educators, we recognize there are circumstances that cause some students to become disenfranchised with their education," said Dr. Steven Taylor, Wayne County superintendent. "To help meet the needs of every student, our schools are working hard to offer programs that help keep students engaged in the educational process. Results from these programs will be seen over time."

There are a variety of reasons for students dropping out of school, and local school officials have long questioned the formula used to calculate the dropout rate -- particularly when students move from the district and cannot be located, take longer than four years to complete their education or later return to complete a GED but are still considered a dropout.

A number of efforts have been introduced in Wayne County in recent years to tighten the reins on the problem, including two non-traditional high school options -- Wayne Early/Middle College and Wayne School of Engineering -- freshman academies at each of the high schools, providing mentors and take-home computers, offering distance education classes and support services for families and introducing career academies to provide vocational options for students.