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More county students staying in school

By Staff
Moss: improvement part of an ongoing battle
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
Even as the state high school dropout rate rose, Beaufort County’s rate fell, according to a report released this week.
The county rate fell from 6.84 percent in the 2004-2005 year to 5.69 percent in 2005-2006. Across the state, 22,180 students dropped out of high school during the 2005-2006 school year, a rate of 5.04 percent, up from 4.74 the year before. It was the worst rate since 1999, according to the Associated Press.
Beaufort County Schools had 134 students quit school last year, 18 fewer than the 2004-2005 school year, according to the annual dropout report.
Students who were enrolled in school one year, but are not enrolled on the 20th day of the following year, are considered dropouts under state law. The dropout statistics do not include students who are enrolled in private schools or are home schooled.
Superintendent Jeff Moss attributes the county’s declining dropout rate to a variety of support services that the school system offers students.
Russell Holloman, principal of Washington High School, offers his students after-school tutorial service, wherein both teachers and students stay after school to work on core curriculum four days a week.
Incentive programs have also been put in place which entice students to continue the tutorial program.
The school also offers a credit-recovery lab after school, Holloman said. Instead of having to take summer school to regain course credit lost by failing a class, students can effectively add another period to their day and earn credit for the course that they have failed, he said.
In North Carolina, children ages seven to 16 are required by law to be enrolled in school “so that they can be prepared to be useful and productive citizens,” according to the NCBoE Web site.
The state board of education measures dropouts in two ways: the annual dropout rate and a cohort graduation rate. The annual dropout rate simply counts the number of students who have dropped out of school since the beginning of the previous school year. The cohort rate counts how many students that enroll in high school one year graduate four years later with the same group.
Though the county’s rate is declining, Moss says he is “not satisfied, but we’re doing a lot better than we were doing.