By Eric Crews
Staff Writer 

School Dropout Rate Falls To 18-Year Low


(The Transylvania Board of Education held its annual retreat on Feb. 6. The following is a third story from that retreat.)

The Transylvania student dropout rate for the 2010/2011 school year fell to an 18-year low, according to Scott Elliott, director of secondary education for the school system.

“Our dropout rate is lower than we thought it would be,” Elliott told the board during the retreat.

The official rate for the 2010/2011 school year was 2.92 percent.

Elliot said the average dropout rate for other counties in Western North Carolina was around 3.25 percent.

“For the first time in three years we are beginning to see other school systems’ rates increase,” he said. “So we are happy to see our rates decreasing.”

The lowest rates in the state were at Chapel-Hill Carrboro, where the rate was 1.91 percent.

Board Chairman Chris Whitmire said that the numbers were indicative of the quality of the school system and the school’s educators and administrators.

“Our numbers are far more impressive than they seem,” he said. “These numbers are even that much more significant, as far as being above the state average, because our standards are much higher than the state’s minimum requirements.”

Elliot said that there were several reasons to celebrate these results.

“Brevard High had 13 dropouts last year, but not that long ago we had 28,” he said. “At Rosman High we had just one dropout. Not that long ago we had 14.

“This is a reason to celebrate. It’s due to the hard work of our schools, our teachers, our school counselors and programs that we are really beginning to see the benefits.”

According to the state, the annual statewide high school dropout rate decreased from 3.75 percent to 3.43 percent for 2010-11. A total of 15,342 high school students dropped out in 2010-11 as compared to 16,804 students in 2009-10 (8.7 percent decrease).

For all grades, the number of students dropping out decreased to 15,773 from 17,346 the prior year.

About 63 percent of North Carolina school districts experienced a decrease in dropout rates.

In considering the annual dropout rate, it is important to note that this rate is not the same as the four-year cohort graduation rate.

The graduation rate follows a group of ninth graders over a four-year period and reports the percentage of these students who graduate four years after they began high school.

The annual dropout rate illustrates the number and percentage of students who drop out during one year's time.

Some of these students may return to school in the subsequent year and complete high school; others may drop out multiple times. The four-year cohort graduation rate is considered a more comprehensive picture of this issue.


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