Dropout rate declines

September 16, 2004|by TAMELA BAKER

Washington County's high school graduation rate rose in the 2003-04 academic year, while the dropout rate dipped slightly, according to figures released this week by the Maryland State Department of Education.

The graduation rate for Washington County Public Schools was 86.58 percent for 2004, up from 84.57 percent in 2003. Statewide, the graduation rate in 2004 was 84.28 percent.

The graduation rate is calculated by dividing the number of high school graduates in a given class by the sum of the dropouts for grades nine through 12, respectively, in consecutive years, plus the number of high school graduates, according to the MSDE Web site.


The dropout rate for 2004 was 2.21 percent, down slightly from last year's adjusted figure of 2.25 percent.

Last year's rate originally was reported as 2.19 percent, but was adjusted when additional data were submitted, according to Robert Brown, coordinator of testing and accountability for the school system.

The figures for both years show the local dropout rate has been more than halved since 2000, when the dropout rate was 5.55 percent.

Statewide, the dropout rate was 3.85 percent for the 2003-04 academic year. The state's "satisfactory standard" is 3 percent, according to the state education department's Web site.

"I'm just so very proud of the hard work that our staff has put into this effort in the past three or four years," said Boyd Michael III, executive director of secondary education for Washington County Public Schools.

Michael credited the school system's dropout prevention program, after-school and Saturday school programs and other intervention programs for the improved numbers.

"I think it's a combination of many, many interventions and the hard work of many, many staff members that have helped this effort to lower our dropout rate substantially and increased our graduation rate," he said.

Other numbers released this week show a slight decrease in attendance rates at all grade levels, although attendance remains above 95 percent for all age groups. Local attendance rates are above the statewide averages, however, which were 95.3 percent for elementary students, 93.5 percent for middle school students and 91.6 percent for high school students.

In Washington County, the attendance rates for the 2003-04 academic year were 96 percent for elementary students, 95.5 percent for middle school students and 95.1 percent for high school students. The state's satisfactory standard is 94 percent.

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