The Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that Arizona has the highest percentage in the nation of teens 16 to 19 who have dropped out of school. The report says that rate is 12 percent, compared to 8 percent nationally. But as BoardBuzz has reported recently here and here, states have their own creative ways of figuring dropout rates. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne tells the Arizona Republic newspaper that Arizona’s dropout rate is closer to 6 percent: “I think that organization has their numbers wrong,” he said. The Kids Count ranking uses census data, not self-reported figures, the paper reports.
Kids Count does point out that, nationally, the high school dropout rate is one of three pieces of good news about the well-being of America’s children: it fell significantly from 2000 to 2003, even as, over the same time period, the number of children who live with parents facing persistent unemployment grew to 4 million, an increase of more than 1 million, and even as half a million more children were living in poverty.
In the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina, administrators and principals are choosing from a grab bag of initiatives aimed at reducing the dropout rate: Ninth-grade academies, modified block scheduling, elective courses that offer extra help, online courses, career exploration programs, and college-level classes, reports the News & Observer newspaper. More dropout prevention resources here.