Public School Dropout Prevention Measures Continue To Produce Results

The Johnston County Middle College High School Class of 2017 celebrate by throwing their caps in the air.

October is National Dropout Prevention Month, a time to focus on increasing awareness of the long-term effects on students, the economy, and society when students drop out of school.

The goal of National Dropout Prevention Month is to help the public become better informed about how to prevent students from dropping out of school.

“In Johnston County Public Schools it is a team effort to make sure our students graduate,” said Ray Stott, Student Services Officer for Johnston County Public Schools. “Our school social workers, school counselors and student advocates are on the front lines every day working with at-risks students to address their needs.”

According to Stott, the decision to drop out of school is not due to one single factor. It is the result of a process that often begins years before the actual event.

“Dropping out is a complex social problem for which there is no easy solution. There are many reasons students drop out of school,” said Stott. “In Johnston County the majority of students dropping out in previous years cite work as the reason, but each case has its own story and circumstances. In some cases the student’s family needed the student to work for financial support. Some students say that they had too many discipline problems to continue or that  because of poor attendance and previous retentions they felt they had fallen too far behind to ever be able to catch up.”

In the 2015-16 school year, 179 Johnston County students dropped out of school. Among high school students, that’s a dropout rate of 1.67, compared to the 2014-2015 rate of 1.99.

“Our goal is always zero dropouts, but compared to the 2007-2008 school year when there were 428 dropouts, we are pleased that in less than 10 years we have reduced that number to 179,” said Stott.

According to the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network at Clemson University, high school dropouts are eligible for only 10 percent of jobs and the demand for unskilled workers continues to decrease. High school dropouts are twice as likely as those with a diploma to live in poverty. The life expectancy for a high school dropout is six years less than a high school graduate. Seventy-five percent of state prison inmates and fifty-five percent of federal prison inmates did not complete high school.

“If we can call attention to the long-term challenges presented when a student drops out of school and the opportunities we as communities have for addressing the needs of at-risk students before they drop out, then we are better prepared to counsel students about the benefits of staying in school and to direct them to the resources they need to help them experience success,” said Dr. Sandy Addis, Executive Director of the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network. “Our goal must be zero school dropouts. Increased awareness created by National Dropout Prevention Month is one step toward that goal.”

National Dropout Prevention Month encourages public, private, and nonprofit entities to raise awareness of the issue and encourage all students to stay in school for the brighter future it means.

“Communities that understand the life-long impact for students who drop out of school and that work together to support at-risk students can help decrease the likelihood that students will drop out of school,” said Stott. “The most effective prevention initiatives are the result of community-wide efforts that involve families, businesses, faith-based organizations, and schools.”

Stott added that Johnston County Public Schools continues to increase opportunities and choices for students in order to keep them in school.

“From our Choice Academies to Individual Learning Plans our staff is prepared to help every student achieve the goal of graduating high school,” he said. “If you know someone who is at risk of dropping out of school please contact their school’s student advocate or school social worker.”