Dropping Out Of Life: Part Two


An area school district is working to decrease its number of dropouts.

When the 2005 non-academic data was released back in May, the Cumberland County School district had a drop-out rate of seven percent. That's double the state-wide dropout rate in 2005. It was around 3.5 percent.

After looking at the amount of dropouts the school district had in the 2004-2005 school year, the Cumberland County superintendent decided to take action.

John Hurt and the school administrators began brainstorming different ways to identify at-risk students early to help curb the number of dropouts.

In the 2004-2005 school year around 25 students dropped out of Cumberland County High. After seeing the numbers those with the school district began working to identify the students who are at risk of dropping out.

"Trying to wrap services around those kids, so we can turn them around at a younger age and we think that's important," superintendent, John Hurt said.

District educators look for red flags that indicate a student is in danger of dropping out including failing grades and lack of attendance.

"We're looking at students that may not be making satisfactory progress during the course of a year. We're looking at students that miss more school than they should," Hurt said.

The district has a vocational school to help students who may not be successful in a traditional high school setting. This way, students can learn a trade they're interested in. There's also an alternative school.

"It's more structured, there's less distractions there, so we feel like that's a good option," Hurt said.

Back in the fall semester, the Cumberland County School District also began a freshman orientation for students and their parents. The hope is to have a smooth transition from middle to high school.

"We've found that students that get behind their freshman year, those are the ones that tend to drop out," guidance counselor, Connie Garmon said.

There's an academic recovery program for those that need a little extra help to re-gain a credit for a class they may have failed. The students can obtain those credits in school, after school, or during summer vacation.

"It's sort of a second chance to be successful and that's a key to keeping kids in school," principal, Kay Graham-Bright said.

Counseling is also required for students that show an inclination of dropping out. The school hopes by showing students the importance of an education, they'll re-think leaving high school.

"The next three or four years is just a small amount of time compared to the rest of your life," Graham-Bright said.

Superintendent Hurt said the results of the program that targets children who are at risk of dropping out at an early age won't be known for several years.

He's hoping for faster results for some of the other programs.

For more information on the Non-Academic Data, including dropout, retention and graduation rates you can click here.


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