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Chatham County schools' dropout rate decreases for third year

Posted Thursday, February 8, 2007

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Chatham County, NC - The dropout rate in Chatham County Schools dropped for the third consecutive year. The county dropout rate dropped from 4.50 in 2004-05 to 3.72 percent in 2005-06. Chatham County is one of forty-six school districts across the state to have a decrease in its dropout rate. There are 115 school districts in North Carolina.

“One of the factors we attribute the decrease to is the intense effort of our school social workers in making strong connections with students who show some of the patterns that lead to dropouts. We have a countywide dropout prevention team that meets monthly to identify students of concern and the issues that affect their school performance. We tailor our dropout prevention efforts to meet those needs,” said Mary Harris, who has coordinated dropout prevention in Chatham County Schools for the past ten years.

The student dropout rate in North Carolina increased slightly in 2005-06 and is now 5.04 percent, an increase of 6.33 percent according to the Annual Dropout Event Report for School Year 2005-06 presented to the State Board of Education on January 31. The dropout rate in 2004-05 was 4.74 percent.

The state recently released annual student dropout rates for public schools in North Carolina. The data is from grades nine through twelve.

For the annual dropout rate calculation, a dropout is defined as a student who:
o was enrolled in school at some time during the previous school year, which is the reporting year;
o was not enrolled on Day 20 of the current school year;
o has not graduated from high school or completed a state or district approved educational program; and
o does not meet any of the following reporting exclusions: 1) transferred to another public school district, private school, home school or state/district approved educational program; 2) temporarily absent due to suspension or school-approved illness; or 3) death.

It is noteworthy that students who leave a high school before graduating to attend a community college are included in the North Carolina dropout rate. State officials noted that there has been a recent increase in the number of students that fall into this category.

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