State Releases Local High School Dropout Rates

Twice as many students drop out of CHS than county schools, Rachana Dixit and Brandon Shulleeta write in today’s Daily Progress. The state Department of Education has just released the results of a four year longitudinal study, and some of the results are a bit different than conventional wisdom. 13.2% of kids who entered CHS in 2004 have left without a degree, compared to a state average of 8.7%, and a county rate of 6.5%. Turning the statewide standard on its head, females at CHS are slightly more likely to drop out than males (13.3% vs. 13%). In the county, black and white students drop out at the same rate, which is significantly different than the 12% and 6% dropout rates, respectively, statewide. In the city, 15.4% of black students drop out, which is slightly higher than the overall rate.

Spokeswoman Cass Cannon tells the Progress that the city schools are already working on the problem:

We certainly have moved to address our dropout rate and we’ve more than doubled our programs to support high school graduation. We have things in motion to address what we’ve known, but that won’t show up for years to come.

Mayor Dave Norris suggests that the problem may actually be worse than this, telling the paper that he’s heard of kids dropping out after middle school.

This method of tracking is totally new. Dropouts used to be tracked annually, rather than in four-year groupings. So if a kid finished his freshman year, and didn’t come back in his sophomore year, he wasn’t recorded as a dropout. This new methodology is designed to address that problem.

12 thoughts on “State Releases Local High School Dropout Rates”

  1. I shouldn’t really comment on this topic because I don’t have any kids, but it seems to me after having seen countless dollars thrown at the problem, that the core of the quandary continues to be in the home…with the parents. No matter how much you spend you can never have a surrogate parent (IMHO).

  2. IMHO, we begin to mentally/emotionally lose students at Walker. Could the organization of our schools (Walker for two years, Buford for two years) be a big part of the problem?

  3. VOD…

    This would be the time that adolescence begins and parents really need to start paying time and attention. No time and attention or social networks of support and goals = dishwashers of tomorrow.

  4. I don’t think spending two years at Walker and two years at Buford is a big problem. Three of my four children have been through that transition with little difficulty. (My fourth child will start at Walker next year.) I don’t think that having a traditional three grade middle school and elementary schools that go to fifth grade will make any difference in the drop out rate in high school. It does seem like the general attitude of the student body becomes less eager to please and more rebellious when they get to Buford, but that is normal for the developmental stage of 12 & 13 year olds. IMO, the problem starts well before kindergarten.

  5. I think danpri and dahmius are right that adolescence is a critical time in a person’s life and ideally there would be supportive adults who devote themselves to guiding and shaping and encouraging… but what’s Plan B, for when inevitably some adults don’t? it seems to me that in every realm of life, it makes sense to have Plan A (the ideal) and Plan B (the real). There will always be uninvolved and worse-than-incompetent parents. What do we do about that problem (a problem that has some broadly distributed negative consequences), besides complain about the lousy parents (which gets nobody anywhere)?

  6. We have a lot of folks that have “turned over” their kids to the school system to raise. This is a sad commentary on society, but it will be our legacy.

    The kids see that the parents don’t care, and that is a hard realization for any teacher or counselor to reverse.

    OK, I’ve said it. Let the beatings begin.

  7. Some of these comments deal with stereotypes: the uncaring parent. Many caring parents become disappointed parents when their child drop out of school. The reasons for dropping out are as varied as the number of dropouts. However, there are some bonofide themes that can be applied statistically. The problem is the Charlottesville school system has never looked into the reasons that students drop out. The system, too, has decided it’s because of uncaring parents. And that’s funny because the system never asks the student why she dropped out nor the student’s caretaker. And, quite frankly, I doubt if most people in the system actually really and truly care.

  8. Cville Eye,
    I recall watching a City School Board meeting on TV last year and someone presented a detailed study regarding the dropout rate at the city schools.

  9. They give that report every year. It’s the statistics that are required by the state that make up the report.

  10. The methodology of counting the dropouts changes every year. Seems it was closer to 50% only last year. Like the SOLs, the numbers are massaged to say what you want people to think. Not like the schools have a history if being honest or transparent. They don’t ask the reasons for dropping out on purpose. A while back (couple years?) WINA morning show interviewed someone who had done a survey of HS dropouts. Safety was no surprise. And some kids dropped out to take care of a sick relative. For me CHS was a waste of time and I learned all the wrong lessons.

  11. Danpri,

    The thing about public education is this: teachers and administrators and decision-makers can’t change what happens in the home. You get the students you get, period.

    There is a lot of evidence that students perform better and feel better about themselves the longer they stay in elementary school. I will find documentation for this if anyone doubts it. We yank kids out of elementary school at a much earlier age than anyone else, before they’re ready, I would say. We call Walker an elementary school, but it is not; it’s a middle/intermediate school.

    And, for what it’s worth, parents pay a lot of attention in our system….up to the end of elementary school. Then, it seems, a lot of the parents who are most concerned take their kids and up and leave the system. Why?

    Why are there so many successful schools that pick kids up in grade 5? Tandem and Village both begin with grade 5, and I’m sure that St. Anne’s, the Catholic School, Covenant, and others all have a big increase at this age.

    This is a difficult political decision for our system, given the history of Walker and Buford and the history of race relations in our city and our nation…but we do our students and ourselves a disservice by clinging to something that is clearly not working.

  12. The Schenectady City Schools recently reconfigured their schools to be K-6. They posted their reasons for doing so publicly:

    Among the reasons for the K-6 change in Schenectady?

    “As grade span increases so does achievement. The more grade levels that a school services, the better the students perform.”

    “Schools with broader grade spans combining elementary and middle grades tend to have stronger levels of parental involvement.

    So why in the world do we have two schools in our system with teeny little spans? It makes no sense, when our dropout rate is so high, to have a structure that negatively impacts achievement as well as parental involvement.

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