Last Modified: Saturday, June 09, 2012 12:45 PM
Louisiana’s dropout rate has fallen for the third straight year, a decline officials attribute to college and career readiness initiatives.
According to the Department of Education, the number of students in grades 9-12 who dropped out decreased by more than 4,000 students — from 14,616 in 2008-2009 to 10,520 in 2009-2010 — representing a 28 percent decline. In Southwest Louisiana last year, there were 31 dropouts in Allen Parish; six in Beauregard, a decline of 0.7 percent from the year before; 254 in Calcasieu, a 0.4 percent decline; four in Cameron, a 2.1 percent decline; and 67 in Vernon, a 0.1 percent increase. Allen’s rate remained the same.
“These are substantial improvements,” State Superintendent of Education John White said. “But we won’t consider our work complete until every student chooses to stay in school.”
White said the decline is due to more focus on preventing dropouts and efforts to improve graduation rates at the state and local levels.
“We’ve worked at every level — state, district and school — to put effective resources and systems in place that allow us to clearly identify potential dropouts sooner, which in turn allows us to intervene sooner to prevent students from dropping out,” he said. “And the improvement we’ve made in our data collection and reporting tools provides us with a more accurate depiction of when a student has actually dropped out of school, thereby allowing us to better analyze and understand the underlying causes and prospective solutions.”
According to the Department of Education, one of the tools that has been most effective in curbing the number of dropouts is the Career & Technical Education program. More than 72 percent of Louisiana high school students are enrolled in at least one CTE class. A 2010 study found that 97.6 percent of Louisiana students who complete at least three CTE courses earn their high school diplomas.
The dropout rate isn’t just good news for our state, it’s fantastic news for our area.
Jason Amos of the Alliance for Excellent Education group said a decrease in the number of local high school dropouts can bring a bounty of economic benefits to the region — as much as $9.7 million a year.
In a recent survey, the alliance found that if Southwest Louisiana added 550 graduates in 2011, those graduates would collectively be expected to earn as much as $7.9 million more in an average year, compared to earnings without a diploma.
Over time, these graduates combined would be expected to spend as much as $14 million more on home purchases than they would without a diploma and spend an additional $500,000 more on vehicle purchases during an average year, the alliance found.
The state seems to have taken great pains to see that individual attention is given to those students who desperately need it the most. And that seems to be making a difference.
Students deserve congratulations, as well.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.