4/23/14 Area schools see big improvements in dropout rate

Area schools see big improvements in dropout rate
By Karen Carter, Enterprise Editor, The Mebane Enterprise 4/23/14  
Reprinted with permission.      

Public schools in North Carolina have a decline in dropout rates across the state. The Alamance-Burlington School System has its lowest dropout rate in district history.

The State Department of Public Instruction recently released numbers reporting the dropout rates in the public schools, along with figures on reported crime acts within schools for the 2012-13 academic year.

Results from the annual North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
Consolidated Data Report were presented to the North Carolina State Board of Education on Wednesday, April 2.

The Alamance-Burlington Board of Education reviewed the data at its April 14 monthly board meeting, looking ahead to set goals for the schools’ first, historic, long-term “Strategic Plan.”

In its release of figures to the public, the Department of Public Instruction reported the statewide high school dropout rate decreased from 3.01 percent to 2.45 percent.

Alamance-Burlington Schools recorded a robust 26.7 percent reduction in the number of students identified as dropping out of school during the 2012-2013 school year; the lowest level in district history. A total of 233 students left school during the 2012-2013 school year, or 85 fewer students than the total of 318 in the 2011-2012 school year, for a decrease from 4.47 percent to 3.31 percent, said Jenny Faulkner, public information officer for the school district.

A strong emphasis on individualized course scheduling, development of graduation plans for students, and alternative options for credit recovery are among many school and district initiatives developed to remove barriers and reduce the number of students leaving school before graduation, said Faulkner.

“School principals work closely with school counselors, school social workers, graduation coaches, nurses and teachers to tailor educational programming and support services to keep students on track for graduating with their peers,”

Faulkner said. “Alamance-Burlington offers a variety of alternative settings and options to meet student needs, including: high school summer school, after school/evening academy, Alamance-Burlington Middle College, Ray Street Academy, Career and Technical Education Center, North Carolina Virtual Public School, among others.”

As an additional strategy to keep students in school and focused on graduation, Alamance-Burlington has invested in a multi-year plan for district-wide professional staff development targeted on building and maintaining strong, positive relationships between students, teachers and school administrators. According to superintendent Dr. Lillie Cox, “We are seeing positive results from this long-term targeted investment in our staff members and our students. This commitment is making a real difference in ensuring every student’s success.”

For several years now, the Alamance-Burlington Schools have focused on keeping kids in school at every grade level with practices in place to lower the dropout rate, increase the graduation rate, and prepare students for postsecondary education.

Now with the dropout rate having been lowered, the increase also in the graduation rate for public schools in North Carolina show Alamance-Burlington schools at a record-setting pace.

For the 2012-2013 academic year, Alamance-Burlington Schools earned its highest graduation rate on record with a district rate of 78.1 percent of seniors graduating with their four-year cohort, said Faulkner.

Capping off five years of steadily-increasing performance, the district’s seven high schools have the increased the number of graduates a robust 7.5 percent since 2009.

The increase in seniors earning their diplomas for 2012-2013 was as follows: Graham 14.1 percent, Cummings 9.0 percent, Williams 8.4 percent, Eastern 6.9 percent, Western 6.2 percent, and Southern 4.7 percent.

Eastern Alamance High School has stayed above 80 percent in its graduation Cox, “We are seeing positive results from this long-term targeted investment in our staff members and our students. This commitment is making a real difference in ensuring every student’s success.”

For several years now, the Alamance-Burlington Schools have focused on keeping kids in school at every grade level with practices in place to lower the dropout rate, increase the graduation rate, and prepare students for postsecondary education.

Now with the dropout rate having been lowered, the increase also in the graduation rate for public schools in North Carolina show Alamance-Burlington schools at a record-setting pace.

For the 2012-2013 academic year, Alamance-Burlington Schools earned its highest graduation rate on record with a district rate of 78.1 percent of seniors graduating with their four-year cohort, said Faulkner.

Capping off five years of steadily-increasing performance, the district’s seven high schools have the increased the number of graduates a robust 7.5 percent since 2009.

The increase in seniors earning their diplomas for 2012-2013 was as follows: Graham 14.1 percent, Cummings 9.0 percent, Williams 8.4 percent, Eastern 6.9 percent, Western 6.2 percent, and Southern 4.7 percent.

Eastern Alamance High School has stayed above 80 percent in its graduation making, the highest rate every reported.

Eastern Alamance High School earned the status of Signature School this year from the Piedmont Triad Education Consortium, in part, for its improved graduation rate.

At Eastern, a campus wide advisement program focused on ensuring that 100 percent of all seniors leave high school with tangible plans to enroll in post-secondary education, the military, or meaningful employment opportunities, said principal Dave Ebert when interviewed after the school received the Signature School distinction in December 2013.

Other achievements for Eastern included more academic rigor in courses, faculty and student planning and consultation, a 24-percent increase in the past three years in the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses and tests, and the highest student participation for a senior class, 71.9 percent, taking the college entrance exams (SAT) for the Class of 2013.

For the Alamance-Burlington Schools, the increase in the graduation rate also marked another record high with the Class of 2013 earning the most academic and athletic scholarships in district history: $13 million from 86 colleges and universities in 21 states, a 26 percent increase than the previous record-setting year.