Success in reducing dropouts

Success in reducing dropouts

Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W. Va.: In recent years, schools and communities have been working to reduce high school dropout rates, and it is good to report some signs of success.

Last month, the Department of Education released a study that showed the graduation rate has improved a little nationally with about 78 percent of high school freshmen getting their diploma on time in the spring of 2010.

The study also showed improvement in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, which posted graduation rates between 78-81 percent for 2010.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan speculated that the difficult economy may be keeping some students in school, but the increased focus from schools and communities seems to be helping as well.

In Cabell County, for example, high schools have created new “graduation coach” positions as part of the Innovation Zone program and seeing some good results. In 2009-2010, Cabell County had more than 200 students drop out, but after adding the coaches, that fell to 128 in 2010-2011 and 95 last year.

Team teaching, freshmen academies and other initiatives on the high school and middle school level also are helping keep students on track. That also shows up in a recent decline in discipline problems and higher freshmen attendance rates.

It is good to see all those efforts because the stakes are high. The life and job outlook for dropouts gets tougher every year. Too often these young people struggle to earn a living wage, and eventually society begins to foot the bill.

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