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NEWS RELEASES 1998-99 :: MAY 5, 1999


The state dropout rate continued to decline in 1997-98 from 3.71 percent to 3.61 percent. This decrease of .10 percent represents an additional 212 students staying in school as compared to 1996-97.

The dropout numbers reported are for grades 7-12 in the public schools. The numbers are based on the calculation method required by the National Center for Education Statistics. A student is considered a dropout if he/she leaves school for any reason, other than death, before graduation or completion of a program of studies without transferring to another elementary or secondary school or post-secondary institution, including community college. This method counts a student twice if he/she drops out more than once.

Also included in the attached chart are North Carolina's unduplicated figures. Unlike the federal numbers, the state figures do not count a student who returns to school but drops out a second time in a subsequent year. This is the last year (1997-98) the state will report unduplicated figures.

Dropout rates for the 1998-99 school year will change to reflect a revision in how dropouts are defined. These revisions, approved by the State Board of Education in August 1998, define students who leave high school for a community college GED, adult high school or other program as dropouts. In prior years, these students were not counted as high school dropouts unless they also left the community college program.

Efforts to accurately calculate the dropout rate and to address the problem intensified in the mid-1980s when state dropout prevention funds were appropriated for the first time. The funds, which totaled $144,077,407 in 1997-98, are used by local school systems to increase the number and range of services to at-risk students to reduce the number of dropouts. These efforts include addressing substance abuse, involving parents, integrating counseling into the school curriculum, scheduling classes that meet the needs of working students, referring students to appropriate community agencies for assistance and offering health clinics.

Major reasons that students drop out include attendance-related reasons, such as family responsibilities and work; choice of work over school; and academic difficulties.

For more information, please contact Dr. Elsie Leak, Director, School Improvement, DPI, 919.807.3911.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.