Fewer students dropping out in Delaware

 (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

(AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

Delaware’s annual high school dropout report shows a one percent decrease in the 2012-13 school year.

The Delaware Dept. of Education report presented to the State Board of Education today shows 1,106 of the 38,613 students enrolled in grades 9 through 12 dropped out of school in the past academic year. That number reflects a 2.9 percent dropout rate, down from 3.9 percent in 2011-12.

“Educators across our state have been working hard to better identify students at risk and provide the intervention and supports that these children need to ensure they stay in school earlier,” said Secretary of Education Mark Murphy. “At the same time, we know challenges remain.”

Not all positive

While school districts like Capital and Christina saw declines in dropout numbers, Kent County’s Positive Outcomes Charter School saw a sharp increase in dropouts.

“Any of our schools who are not seeing improvements in their graduation rates and in their dropout rates, are taking a very hard look at what the challenges are that they are experiencing,” Murphy said, suggesting schools that are struggling with dropouts take the time to learn from the schools delivering better outcomes.

Alison May, with the DOE, says changes in enrollment and school structure also need to be taken into account when looking at the data.

Alternative methods

Dover High School in the Capital School District credits a program, now in its second year, for its gains in keeping more of its students in school. Students without enough credits to graduate, who might otherwise drop out, are invited to take part in a daytime credit recovery program.

The program offers students, who often don’t thrive in a typical classroom setting, an alternative method of teaching using online tools and technology, allowing students to work and learn at their own pace.

First will introduce you to some Dover High School students and explain how the daytime credit recovery program works in next Friday’s show at 5:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Regional rates

The annual dropout rate shows New Castle County has the highest percentage of dropouts at 3 percent, followed by Kent with 2.9 percent and Sussex, 2.4 percent.

Statewide, the DOE says 44.8 percent of students who dropped out are black, 42.5 percent are white and 12.7 percent are Hispanic.

Secretary Murphy says the latest numbers mark a 30-year low in the percentage of students leaving school.

The state also released annual graduation rates today, which saw a statewide rate of 79.9 percent, up slightly from 79.6 percent the year before. 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.