NEWS RELEASES 2010-11 :: MARCH 3, 2011


The number of students who dropped out of school in 2009-10 was at a record low and the number of suspensions and expulsions also decreased. At the same time, school crime and violence was up, according to the 2009-10 Consolidated Report today presented to the State Board of Education.

"Educators across the state have focused on keeping students in class and on track to graduation, and their hard work is paying off," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. “It is imperative that we keep this positive momentum going so all students can graduate and find success in college and careers.” Atkinson added that the state needs to be more aggressive in ensuring that programs that have a positive impact on reducing school crime and violence are shared across districts.

“Every student who stays in school to graduate is one more student who leaves high school college or career ready,” said State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison. “This is good news for students and for their communities.”

Key findings of the Consolidated Report show that:

  • The annual dropout rate decreased to 3.75 percent from 4.27 percent in the prior year. Seventy percent of all school districts demonstrated a decrease in dropout rates. A total of 16,804 high school students dropped out in 2009-10 as compared to 19,184 students in 2008-09.
  • The number of acts of crime and violence increased 4.4 percent from 7.59 acts per 1,000 students to 7.97 acts per 1,000 students. Total acts went from 11,116 in 2008-09 to 11,608 in 2009-10. Schools are required to report 17 offenses that occur on campus or school property. Of those reported, violent offenses account for 4.3 percent. Eighty-six 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 5.5 percent, from 293,453 in 2008-09 to 277,206 in 2009-10. Long-term suspensions (11 days or more) decreased 6.2 percent from 3,592 to 3,368.
  • Expulsions declined to 88 from 116 the previous year - a 24 percent decrease.

North Carolina's dropout rate represents the fewest number of high school dropouts reported since the early 1990s and the fewest ever since exemptions for students leaving for community college were disallowed beginning in the late 1990s. The rate of 3.75 percent is the lowest grade 9-12 dropout rate ever recorded in North Carolina.

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 of these students who 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. The four-year cohort graduation rate is considered a more comprehensive picture of this issue.

In reviewing the findings of the report, some trends continue to stand out. Ninth grade males are especially at-risk in all categories. American Indian and African American males also were more at risk of committing crimes and acts of violence, receiving out-of-school suspensions, and dropping out of school.

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 Intervention and 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 available online at .


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.