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Louisiana dropout rate significantly declines

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 10:12am

According to a report released by the Louisiana Department of Education on Wednesday, the state's annual dropout rate significantly declined last school year.  Schools across Louisiana saw a 28% decrease in dropouts on average.

In Caddo Parish, about 68% of students graduate high school within four years, but the school district recently developed and implemented a dropout prevention plan that could increase that number.  Rosemary Woodard, Director of Testing and Assessments for Caddo Parish Schools, told us that they analyze the data of when students are dropping out, who is dropping out and what kind of support they can put in place to ensure that the kids are successful.

That support includes a credit recovery program to help students who fall behind in the beginning.  The schools also have graduation coaches, a partnership with BPCC and people working with students to help them with the transition into college or a career, explained Woodard.

Southwood High School has developed a pilot program to help students, who are at-risk of dropping out, get back on the path to graduation.  That program includes separating students into three different tiers of learning based on their abilities.  Tier 1 students need little extra assistance, tier 2 students need some assistance outside the classroom, and tier 3 students need intensive assistance.  The tier 3 students will have teachers and administrators work with them, monitor their progress and make adjustments to their schedule to put them back on the right track, said Jeffrey Roberts, the principal of Southwood High School.

Roberts told us that this program on top of teachers tutoring before and after school helps students stay on track for graduation.

With possible upcoming school consolidations, the dropout rate could continue to decrease.  "When you consolidate schools, what happens is you eliminate some transitions," explained Woodard.  "And that always helps dropout rates because the fewer transitions the kids go through, the less disruption of the educational process."

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