State, parish school dropout rates both decline
Recently published data from the Louisiana State Department of Education indicates significant decreases in the state’s dropout rate among students in grades 7-12 and grades 9-12.
Meanwhile, St. Mary Parish’s decline in dropout percentages exceeded those of the state, hitting all-time lows.
Louisiana has revealed a 36 percent decline in the annual dropout rate from the school years 2008-09 to 2010-11 among students in grade 7-12.
More than 5,200 more students stayed in school during this three-year span. The trend is also found among students in grades 9-12 with a 34 percent decline as 12,163 students dropped out of school in 2008-09 compared to 7,997 students in 2010-11.
The decline from 2008-09 builds upon last year’s historic plunge in the state’s dropout rate since tracking and reporting dropouts began in 2001.
State education department officials have attributed the reduction to the state’s focus on dropout prevention, data collection and analysis, and support for improving graduation rates to meet the legislature’s goal of 80 percent graduating by 2014.
Louisiana Dropout Rate*
Grades, student numbers, drop outs, rate
—7-12, 303,680, 14,616, 4.8 percent
—9-12, 192,748, 12,163, 6.3 percent
—7-12, 303,890, 9,376, 3.1 percent
—9-12, 195,975, 7,997, 4.1 percent
St. Mary Parish Dropout Rate
Grades, student numbers, drop outs, rate
—7-12, 4,529, 171, 3.8 percent
—9-12, 3,011, 152, 5 percent
—7-12, 4,427, 81, 1.8 percent
—9-12, 2,848, 81, 2.8 percent
*The annual dropout rate refers to the number and percentage of students who leave school in a given school year.
St. Mary’s decline in dropout percentages exceeded those of the state, hitting all-time lows.
Released district figures identified 171 students in grades 7-12 as dropouts in St. Mary Parish schools during 2008-09; whereas only 81 students elected to leave school prior to graduation in 2010-11. These figures indicate that 90 more students were provided an education in St. Mary parish.
This 52.6 percent rate of decline validates the district’s implementation of proactive measures designed to intervene with at-risk students, Superintendent Donald Aguillard said.
This decline is further noted among students in grades 9-12 during the same period.
St. Mary Parish reduced the number of dropouts from 152 students in 2008-09 to 81 students in 2010-11. This exemplifies a decrease of 71 students and a 46.7 percent reduction in St. Mary’s previously reported dropout rate.
Policy changes enacted by the state have made a distinct impact in the reduction of students leaving school without a high school diploma statewide.
St. Mary’s considerable success in lowering its dropout rate can be attributed to the widespread preventative measures enacted by the district, the superintendent said.
Measures to identify and monitor at-risk students have resulted in specific targeted interventions designed to mitigate academic disparities that may cause a student to decide to drop out. At the middle school level, the implementation of an extended day program remediates skills for students in danger of failing English or mathematics. The program requires students to remain in school for an extended time period each day where they receive differentiated and targeted instruction in a small group setting.
The district’s Credit Recovery and Fifth Block programs have provided tremendous assistance to high school in their effort to meet requirements for graduation. The Credit Recovery program has operated in high schools during the last few years, including a summer school session since 2010.
Students utilize a computer-based program of learning modules that includes diagnostic assessment, prescription of an instructional protocol, and remediation of content area skills before completing a credit test that determines whether course credit can be recovered.
Funding of the Everybody Graduates grant has also enabled ninth grade at-risk students to attend an after school, Fifth Block course for remediation purposes. The addition of Fifth Block offers high schools a viable alternative for preventing student retention in the pivotal ninth grade year. Students attending are able to use the extra class period to acquire focused instruction in areas of demonstrated academic weakness.
St. Mary begins its intervention program in elementary school through periodic DIBELS Next and iSTEEP screenings to pinpoint student deficiencies for early remediation. In addition, identified students in grades 2 and 3 have been provided targeted assistance through a four-week Summer Academic School. This year, a few fifth grade classes were added based on need and available funding.
Aguillard reiterated the district’s relentless commitment in securing prescribed interventions designed to ensure all students are afforded the opportunity to attain a high school diploma.
“As superintendent, I am extraordinarily pleased that more students are staying in St. Mary schools leading to significant declines in dropout percentages. While the objective remains reaching the state’s mandate of an 80 percent graduation rate by 2014, these results indicate that the district is poised to meet and exceed this standard.”