Dropout rates in Louisiana highest in nation

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 9:21am

Just days after Louisiana schools received less-than-stellar reviews on the grading report, the Public Affairs Research Council releases "A Future at Risk," a report charting high school dropout rates. It shows that 17 percent of Lousiana freshman in 2006 dropped out by 2010.

Looking over the numbers, Scott Huges of The Alliance for Education says it's a recurring problem for the area. "Dropouts and low graduation rates is not new for Louisiana. We've historically had this problem." Altogether, 57,000 kids dropped out of school between the four-year study period. In Caddo Parish, nearly half of students don't receive a high school diploma.

Now some schools are taking proactive steps to redirect kids before they decide to drop out. Jeff Thompson, principal of Southwood High School, says his school implemented a ninth grade academy last year. The program helps access individual students and ease them into a high school experience. "The year prior...the ninth grade promotion rate was 83 percent," Thompson says. Last year, it rose to 96 percent. Thompson says that was enough for him and his staff to open a tenth grade academy too. It debuted this year.

The state is requiring all schools to have an 80 percent graduation rate by 2014. Caddo Parish schools are averaging under 60 percent.

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