More teens stay in school

Jan. 23, 2013 @ 10:56 AM

The county school district has reduced the dropout rate again and helped more students, one at a time, to graduate.
The district has the lowest dropout rate among the state’s largest school districts and nearly a full point lower than the state average of 3.01. In the 2011-2012 school year, Guilford County Schools had a dropout rate of 2.15 percent based on 495 students who left school. That’s down from 2.71 percent for the 2010-2011 school year when 625 students departed.
The district provides a dedicated dropout-prevention team at each high school. The team meets at least once a month to review data and ensure each at-risk student has a plan. Students are identified as at-risk through the ABC model: Attendance, Behavior and Course failure. School-based counselors meets individually with students who demonstrate  risk factors. Meetings and plans may include home visits and frequent meetings with parents and students.
“The only way dropout prevention works is to work with individual students,” said Lisa Brenner, the district supervisor for dropout prevention. “The goal has to be about graduation, and we focus on working with individuals to overcome barriers and obstacles to graduation. Once they realize they actually can graduate, they usually make it.”
Also, there are school-based reviews of students who have dropped out in the past, as well as students who are most at-risk of leaving school.
“The issues aren’t the same at each school and for each student,” Brenner said. “Our schools all look different, and they have different populations of students with different needs. One overall plan for the district won’t reach every student, so targeting our approach was critical.”
The district dropout rate has declined every year since Superintendent Mo Green came to the district in 2008. The largest three-year decreases in high school dropout counts were found in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Gaston, Pitt, Forsyth, and Guilford counties, according to the state report.

Dropout Rates For The Largest School Districts, 2011-12*

• Guilford County Schools: 2.15 percent
• Cumberland County Schools:  2.63 percent
• Wake County Schools:  2.83 percent
• Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools:  3.20 percent
• Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools:  3.38 percent
• The Guilford district’s graduation rate also has increased each year, reaching 84.5 percent in 2011-12, the highest four-year rate ever.

*Figures reflect only the students who dropped out during the 2011-2012 school year.