Unemployment up, drop out rates down

A story in today's N&O points to a decline in the drop out rate in North Carolina. Which is good news no matter what.

The public school dropout rate improved in North Carolina last year, and all Triangle school districts were below the statewide average. The rate fell from 5.24 percent in 2006-2007 to 4.97 percent last year, according to statewide figures released Thursday.

State officials attributed the decline to programs that allow students to go online to repeat courses they had failed, high schools that enroll students in college courses, and other programs.

The article goes on to offer various explanations for the decline. I can't help wondering how we'll actually know. For example, I suspect that the breathtaking spike in unemployment that began last year could be a factor in keeping some in school.


Great point, Linda

Smart Start was one of Hunt's most important legacies. Thanks for point this out.

Most of these dropouts aren't

Most of these dropouts aren't working when they leave school. They generally lack the skills and maturity to look far into the future. I doubt unemployment is much of a factor for 16-18 year olds. I talked with my counties' dropout prevention coordinator yesterday. We had the fifth largest reduction (percentage wise) in the state. From talking to her it seems most of it was accomplished with "boots on the ground" inititives. Home visits to the dropouts urging them to come back, letting them complete classes they failed at a different location, visiting young mothers and working out ways for them to return to school. All of our high schools now have Freshman Academy and we are trying to identify middle school students that are at risk of dropping out. It pretty much boils down to one on one contact. People have to know that somebody cares and once they do you can get somewhere in motivating them to stick it out.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

Preventing dropouts is pretty simple...

Here's your basic plan to reduce dropouts by at least 90%:
-Improve early childhood education and primary teaching so that all students can read by 3rd grade. (Thanks, Linda.)
-Make sure that every child who has even one D of F in a class has individualized academic support (Thanks, Huh.)
-Provide adequate physical and mental health services in schools so that students can access them and teachers can collaborate with the providers.

Kids who are healthy and can read don't fail in school. Kids who aren't failing don't drop out.

It's not that hard.