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Wake Schools to tackle high school drop out rate

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19 percent of Wake County students did not graduate on time last year. 19 percent of Wake County students did not graduate on time last year.
CARY, N.C. -

Wake County School leaders say a variety of options are on the table to try and reduce the county's high school drop out rate. 

Eighty one percent of Wake County students graduated on time last year. That's compared to 82.5 percent of students statewide. Those state numbers represent a big improvement from 2006, when just 68 percent of students graduated on time.

"We're performing, as you can see, where we have been the last couple of years," Wake County School Board Chair Keith Sutton said. "So it's not as much, in my opinion, as a slip, from the standpoint of Wake County, but we're seeing other districts in the state catching up."

Still, 19 percent of students did not graduate on time last year.

Sutton said keeping kids from dropping out starts early. He said the district should make sure more children are enrolled in Pre-K, make sure students are reading on grade level by third grade, and try to reduce the number of long-term suspensions.

At a board work session Tuesday, school staff said principals will receive a handbook on Thursday with tools designed to keep students from dropping out. The graduation rate will also be the focus of an up-coming school board retreat.

"It's like squeezing blood out of a turnip. We're probably cruising at fifth gear doing everything we can do to get students to graduate and graduate on time," Sutton said. "So if you're going to see those rates go up any more, you've got to reach those hard to reach populations."

Those "hard to reach" populations include black, Hispanic, economically-disadvantaged and male students. Data shows they all have higher than average dropout rates.

"The subgroups that are suffering in Wake County have historically lagged behind," Wake County Association of Educations President Larry Nilles said. "And they lag behind because of historical deficiencies in resources."

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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