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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Jan 1970

    Mass. -Dropout rates on the rise

    Dropout rates on the rise

    By MATT MURPHY, Sun Staff
    Article Last Updated:12/05/2006 11:43:13 AM EST

    LOWELL -- High schools throughout the state continue their struggle to find effective ways to keep students in school, according to new statistics that show a slight increase in the number of high-school dropouts in Massachusetts.

    The Department of Education reported yesterday that the state high-school dropout rate increased to 3.8 percent in the 2004-2005 school year from 3.7 percent the year before.

    Though the increase appears small, it reflects a steady trend of rising dropout rates since 2002, during which time the number of high-school dropouts statewide increased from 8,422 to 11,145.

    "Students who drop out of high school are making a million-dollar mistake, because that's how much less money they'll be qualified to earn in their lifetime," Education Commissioner David Driscoll said. "As educators, it's critical that we do more to make sure our students see the value of a high-school diploma and recognize the limits they will be setting on their future."

    With the exception of Lowell and Dracut, communities

    in Greater Lowell fared better than the state average, with some schools, such as Ayer High School, North Middlesex Regional High School in Townsend and Wilmington High School succeeding in reducing their number of dropouts.
    Dracut also reduced its dropout rate from 4.5 percent to 3.9 percent, while Lowell saw its rate jump almost two points to 7.3 percent.

    "What I'm finding out is that if we're going to improve our dropout rate, we have to look not only at our academic programs, but support services," Lowell High School Headmaster William Samaras said. "A lot of our dropouts, we're finding, have nowhere to live, or worry about food or child care for siblings or their own children."

    Samaras and Superintendent of Schools Karla Brooks Baehr said poverty and family support can be major factors in whether students stay in school. They stressed the importance of innovative programs to help students overcome obstacles to academic success.

    Low-income students were more than twice as likely to drop out of high school than students not living in poverty, according to the report.

    The rise in the city's dropout rate could be attributed to more accurate reporting rather than a new trend, Baehr said.

    Baehr said she hopes to launch a program in the spring in collaboration with the United Teen Equality Center and the adult-education program to retrieve dropouts and help them get a diploma through classes offered at UTEC.

    The School Department has worked in recent years to expand its program of creating smaller learning environments, called "academies," within Lowell High School to make the transition from middle school less overwhelming.

    And for the past two years, school resource officers have actively visited the homes of frequently absent students.

    Samaras also said he is working with the School Committee to develop alternative models for students that could include social programs and alternate class times for students who can't commit to the traditional school schedule.

    Across the state, male students dropped out far more frequently than their female counterparts, accounting for 58.5 percent of high-school dropouts.

    Dropout rates for black and Hispanic students also continued to rise, with 6.3 percent of the black student population, and 9.1 percent of Hispanic students, leaving school.

    Hispanic students accounted for a quarter of the dropouts in Massachusetts during the 2004-2005 school year.

    "These kids are vulnerable, not just to being undereducated, but in the long run to (being) unemployed and existing at the margins of our state and economy," said Anne Wheelock, a Boston College research associate with the Progress Through the Education Pipeline Project.

    "It's especially severe for Latino students, who are the largest subgroup in the state, and it's very clear that if we don't take this seriously, our communities are going to really be in trouble," she said.

    Area superintendents agreed that the biggest indicator that a student may be at risk of dropping out of school is poor attendance. Transient students who jump from district to district are also more likely to leave school, officials said.

    Dracut Superintendent of Schools Elaine Espindle and her Tewksbury counterpart, Christine McGrath, said their districts have found success in identifying at-risk students before they enter high school.

    "There are a lot of problems they bring in from home that transcend what you're able to do in a school during the day," Espindle said. "We've tried to put them on a plan in the junior-high years to work with parents and put them on an academic plan with close monitoring."

    Tewksbury High saw its dropout percentage jump from 0.2 percent in the 2003-2004 school year to 2.7 percent in 2004-2005.

    McGrath called the 2003-2004 statistics an abnormal "blip," but pointed to a number of programs within the elementary, middle-school and high-school levels geared toward making sure students are engaged in school and able to succeed.

    "I think if one child drops out, you should be concerned," McGrath said. "But I can't tell you whether I'm concerned about this increase until I see the exact names and have a profile of those youngsters."

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  2. #2
    Senior Member lsmith1338's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Boston, MA
    They are not kidding about latinos being the largest sub group in MA, however they should focus on the illegal aliens among them. Why are we wasting education on illegal aliens that do not belong in this state or this country for that matter. I am glad State troopers can now ask status when encountering illegal aliens during routine stops. Hopefully the new governor will not recind this as this state really needs it.
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  3. #3
    Roxas's Avatar
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    Jan 1970
    Can't really complain about this one. I believe that they are guaranteed a high school education, no matter what status they are in. It will never change.

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