Schools look to lower dropout rate

Published 7:12 am Wednesday, August 22, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news reporter
Of the 1,800 high school students in the Escambia County and Brewton City school systems this fall, school officials project that 234 of them will not graduate.
That sobering fact was presented to a group of ninth-grade students at W.S. Neal High School and Escambia County High School in Atmore on Tuesday as part of a &#8220Make It Count” program.
Donna Revel, who is the attendance, at risk and community education coordinator for Escambia County Schools, arranged for the presentation to high school freshmen in the county.
The program focuses on the importance of making every grade count during high school years. Graduation is the main goal of any high school student, however the program focuses on the road to graduation and the important steps along the way.
Lawrence continued the presentation by offering statistics on the number of high school students who will continue their education through to a successful career.
Lawrence said the goal of the nationwide program is to provide information that will make a transition into high school or college more successful for students.
Revel said the staggering number of students in Escambia County projected as part of a dropout rate has raised many concerns among educators and parents.
When state accountability results were released earlier this month, both Escambia County High School and W.S. Neal High School missed their goals for graduation rates. The graduation rate was the only academic goal W.S. Neal missed, but that meant the school missed achieving &#8220adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind law.
Revel has teamed with Baxter Baker with the Brewton City School System to write and apply for a $200,000 grant to help change dropout statistics in the county.
The grant, Revel said, would mean the addition of staff geared toward changing the statistics for area schools.
Revel said current statistics show 11.3 percent of city high school students will drop out of school, while the rate in the county school system stands at 16 percent. Those dropout rates are taken into consideration by businesses that may be interested in locating in the Brewton area.
Revel said only 16 grants will be awarded to assist systems in areas of dropout and graduation rates across Alabama. A decision on the awarding of the grants is expected later this month.

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