RALEIGH — Scotland County was among the top 10 school districts in the state with the highest dropout rates for 2014-2015, according to a recently released report by the state Department of Public Instruction.
In Scotland County, the report said there were a total of 97 dropouts during the past school year. Of those, 58 were male and 39 were female. Blacks were among the highest number of dropouts at 38, followed by American Indian students at 27 and whites at 24.
There were 80 dropouts in Scotland County the previous year for an increase of 21.3 percent, the report said.
Scotland School Superintendent Ron Hargrave said the district reported in August that for 2014-15, there were actually 100 students that had dropped out. The school system was able to recover three of those students prior to reporting its numbers to DPI in October, he said.
“While we were glad to have recovered those three students and get them back in school, we will never be completely satisfied until our drop out rate is 0 percent,” Hargrave said.
The report cited attendance issues as the most frequent reason for a student dropping out. Enrollment in a community college was the second most widely reported reason.
Hargrave said the district has implemented a drop-in program for students that may have circumstances in their lives like having a child at home and no childcare during the day or having to work.
“They are able to take classes in the afternoon or at times that are more conducive to their schedules,” he said.
Hargrave added that school officials recognize that students dropping out is not just a high school problem.
“It truly is a pre-k through high school issue,” he said. “We are working with students earlier. At the high school level, administration and social workers also meet weekly to discuss at-risk students and put plans in place to prevent them from dropping out.”
High schools in North Carolina reported 11,190 dropouts in 2014-15. The grade 9-13 dropout rate in 2014-15 was 2.39 percent, up from the 2.28 percent reported for 2013-14. The increase in the dropout rate was 4.8 percent..
Also reporting high dropout rates were: Warren County, Person County, Lexington City, Thomasville City, Halifax County, Lenoir County, Franklin County, Swain County and Caswell County.
School districts reporting the lowest high school dropout rates were: Newton Conover City, Hyde County, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City, Union County, Macon County, Clinton City, Washington County, Graham County, Currituck County and Yadkin County.
The report also focused on school suspensions. The information in the report, which goes to the North Carolina General Assembly, was created “with the hope of gaining new insights by analyzing and reporting these data together.”
“School districts that do well in one of the areas featured in this report will often excel in another,” the report said. “In highlighting these high performers we hope that the programs and policies that contribute to success will be emulated by others.”
The State Board of Education was expected to discuss the report at its meeting on Thursday.
In Scotland County during the 2014-2015, there were 1,514 short-term suspensions and four long-term suspensions. Broken down by race and gender, black males made up the largest number of short term suspensions at 779; black females at 263; white males at 172; American Indian males at 128; American Indian females at 42, white females at 42; Hispanic males at 20; and Hispanic females at 13.
Scotland’s suspension rate decreased from 1,614 students suspended and seven long-term suspensions from the year before.
“This year, we have implemented many programs and strategies to keep students in school and successful,” Hargrave said. “Our in-school suspension center at Shaw allows students who have received a 10 day or less suspension, to serve that suspension at the center, keep up with their school work, and be counted as present in school.
One of the obstacles for students that have been suspended out of school is that absences mount up and students feel like that the work or the time cannot be made up and they may drop out, according to Hargrave.
“The in-school suspension center allows them to stay in school at Shaw, not be counted absent, and keep up with the work so that when they return to their home school, they are not behind,” Hargrave said. “And we also have a renewed focus and effort on those students that go to Shaw in helping them transition successfully back to their home school.”
Across the state, there were 86,578 grade 9-13 short-term suspensions reported in 2014-15, an increase of 2.7 percent from the 2013-14 total of 84,295. One of nine North Carolina high school students received at least one out-of-school short-term suspension in 2014-15. Many students received only one suspension each year, but a number of students received multiple short-term suspensions.
Ninth grade students received the largest number of short-term suspensions.
The rate of short-term suspensions for male students was 2.8 times higher than for females.
The report said that statewide, black students received the highest rate of short-term suspensions followed by American Indians. Statewide, short-term suspension rates increased in 2014-15 for black, Hispanic, multiracial, and white students. Rates decreased for American Indian, Asian, and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students.
Lexington City Schools reported zero short-term suspensions in 2014-15. Other school districts reporting the lowest rates of grade 9-13 short-term suspensions were: Watauga County, Clay County, Granville County, Asheboro City, Mooresville City, Elkin City, Alexander County and Ashe County.
School districts with the highest rates of grade 9-13 short-term suspensions were: Halifax County, Anson County, Weldon City, Richmond County, Caswell County, Robeson County, Hertford County, Edgecombe County, Whiteville City and Northampton County.
The report said the number of long-term suspensions (11 or more days) for all students declined slightly from 1,088 to 1,085. Average school days per suspension increased from 62.6 to 72.4 school days. High school students received 761 long-term suspensions, a 6.6 percent increase from 2013-14.
Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023