The dropout count for Bladen County Schools fell by 62.7 percent for the 2015-16 school year, a report released Wednesday by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction showed. It was the highest percentage drop in the state among school systems with at least 10 dropouts.
Bladen County had 22 students drop out of high school during the 2015-16 academic year compared to 59 drop out in 2014-15, according to the report. There are about 1,500 students combined at East Bladen and West Bladen.
Bladen County’s dropout rate of 1.48 percent for 2015-16 is a significant drop from 2011-12 when 89 students, or 5.45 percent, dropped out, the report showed.
Figures show that 65 Bladen County high school students, or 4.22 percent, dropped out in 2012-13 and 69 students, or 4.62 percent dropped out in 2013-14.
Statewide, the dropout rate for 2015-16 was 2.29 percent, which was a slight drop from the 2.39 percent rate reported in 2014-15. There were 10,889 students who dropped out of high school across the state in 2015-16.
State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey said he was pleased the state’s dropout rate improved, continuing a long-term trend of gains.
“Every initiative we pursue as a Board has the ultimate goal of graduating all students career and college ready,” he said. “It is critical that we continue to make our public schools relevant to students so that they will see the value of staying the course and graduating with a high school diploma – an important predictor for future success.”
Other key findings of the state report show that:
— Students dropped out most frequently at 10th grade (30.2 percent), followed by 9th grade (28.3 percent).
— The number of high school students dropping out decreased at all grade levels. Dropout rates for Hispanic and Pacific Islander increased while all other racial subgroups decreased. Fifteen of the 22 dropouts in Bladen were white.
— Males accounted for 61.6 percent of reported dropouts, which was down slightly from the 62 percent reported last year. In Bladen, 14 of the 22 dropouts, or 63.6 percent, were male.
— Attendance was again the reason most often cited for dropping out, accounting for 46.5 percent of all dropouts. Leaving to enroll in a community college came in second at 11.1 percent, which was down from 15.8 percent in 2014-15. That decrease is attributable in part to a policy change by the State Board in 2015 to exclude from dropout counts those students who leave high school to enroll in adult high school programs at community colleges. As a result, 307 students from 40 school districts were not included in the Enrollment in a Community College dropout count. If such students should drop out of the adult high school program, their former school district must count them in the next dropout count.
The N.C. Department of Public Instruction notes the annual dropout rate is not the same as the four-year cohort graduation rate. The cohort graduation rate follows a class of students, starting in ninth grade, and measures the percentage of students who graduate four years later. North Carolina reported a four-year cohort graduation rate for the class of 2016 at 85.9 percent, a record high for the state.
The 2015-16 Consolidated Data Report will be presented to the State Board of Education on Thursday.