NEWS RELEASES 2009-10 :: MARCH 4, 2010


Crime and violence, high school dropouts and short- and long-term suspensions decreased overall in North Carolina public schools in 2008-09, according to the second Consolidated Data Report today presented to the State Board of Education at its meeting held in Halifax County Schools this month.

"These three areas of concern are closely connected to high school graduation rates and our students' academic success," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "That is why today's news is encouraging. We know that students who avoid crime and violence and the consequences that go with such behavior are more likely to stay in school and graduate on time."

Key findings of the Consolidated Report show that:

  • The number of acts of crime and violence dropped from 7.85 acts per 1,000 students to 7.59 acts per 1,000 students. Total acts went from 11,276 in 2007-08 to 11,116 in 2008-09. Schools are required to report 17 offenses that occur on campus or school property. Of those reported, violent offenses account for 3.5 percent. Eighty-seven percent of all acts involved possession of controlled substances, a weapon excluding firearms and powerful explosives or alcoholic beverages.

  • Out-of-school suspensions decreased. For short-term suspensions (10 days or fewer), the decrease was 4.7 percent, from 308,010 in 2007-08 to 293,453 in 2008-09. Long-term suspensions (11 days or more) decreased 31.3 percent from 5,225 to 3,592.

  • Expulsions remained low at 116 students statewide – the same as in the previous year.

  • The dropout rate decreased to 4.27 percent from 4.97 percent in the prior year. Eighty-four percent of all school districts demonstrated a decrease in dropout rates. A total of 19,184 high school students dropped out in 2008-09.

This represents an annual high school dropout rate that is the lowest ever recorded in North Carolina. Attendance issues are the most commonly given reason for dropping out of school.

In reviewing the findings of the report, some trends stand out. Ninth grade males are especially at-risk in all three categories. American Indians and African American males were more at risk of committing crimes and of being suspended from school. Male students account for 59 percent of reported dropouts.

In considering the annual dropout rate, it is important to note that this rate is not the same as the four-year cohort graduation rate. The graduation rate follows a group of ninth graders across four years' time and reports the percentage that graduate four years after they begin high school. The annual dropout rate illustrates the number and percentage of students who drop out during one year's time. Some of these students may return to school in the subsequent year and complete high school; others may drop out multiple times. In general, the four-year cohort graduation rate is considered a more comprehensive picture of this issue.

In general, higher suspension rates can lead to higher dropout rates as students realize they are behind in their academic progress and lose hope of catching up. Also, in North Carolina, higher rates of crimes and violence in local school districts appear to have little connection with higher dropout rates.

Strategies that appear successful in addressing these issues include ninth grade academies or transition programs for high school entry, smaller school settings, the Positive Behavior Support program, opportunities for credit recovery, and alternative learning opportunities for students who are at-risk.

The full report detailing district-by-district data on all of these measures is online at For more information, please contact the NCDPI Communications division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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.