Hancock dropped from dropout factory list

November 16, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Researchers recently recognized what local school officials have known for years.

Hancock Middle-Senior High School is not a dropout factory.

Despite having the lowest dropout rate in the county, the school was listed last month among about 1,700 schools nationwide being called dropout factories.

Researchers removed Hancock Middle-Senior High from the list last week, saying that students there are not dropping out of school but rather are transferring.

"They deserve so much positive recognition ... the opposite of being labeled a dropout factory, "Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Instruction Donna Hanlin said.


The study of dropout rates by Johns Hopkins University researchers was misleading, Hanlin said after the study was released in October.

Johns Hopkins spokeswoman Mary Maushard said that 16 schools have been removed from the list since it was published. Appeals for several others are being reviewed, she said.

"No one wants to be on that list," Maushard said. "Everyone would like to be taken off of it."

According to the study, the school has a 58 percent retention rate, meaning that 58 percent of the school's students make it from their freshman to senior years. The school has about 350 students in grades six to 12.

The label of "dropout factory" was given to schools that have 60 percent fewer students in their senior classes than began as freshmen.

According to Maryland State Department of Education data, only 0.46 percent of Hancock-Middle Senior High's students dropped out in 2007, and in 2006, no students dropped out.

Hanlin said Thursday that school system staff provided Johns Hopkins researchers with data showing that the school does not have a problem with dropouts.

There were 71 ninth-graders enrolled at Hancock Middle-Senior High in September 2002, and at the start of the 2005-06 school year, when those students would have been seniors, there were 38 enrolled in the school's senior class, she said.

Nine students were added to that class over the period examined by researchers, and 34 left.

Twenty-two of the students transferred to schools within Washington County, with 13 of them going on to the county's technical high school for their final two years.

Of the group researchers studied, only two actually dropped out.

"Hancock is obviously not a dropout factory," Hanlin said. "It's just the opposite."

For Johns Hopkins University's explanation for removing Hancock Middle-Senior High School from its list of "dropout factories," visit

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