Friday, June 20, 2014

District's goals to bring kids back to school see early success

While only the annual rate is being projected right now, preliminary data suggest the district has cut its drop-out numbers almost in half. On June 1, 2013 there were 211 students recorded as having dropped out of the four Manchester high schools, compared to this June’s count of 104 students, or 2.22%. Given the strong correlation between the June 2013 numbers and those in the state’s most recent report, the projection appears to be fairly reliable, though fluctuations are anticipated.

The New Hampshire Department of Education’s 2012-2013 drop-out statistics indicate the Manchester School District drop-out rate rose from 3.52% annually to 4.22%, compared to the statewide rate increase from 1.26% to 1.29%. The four-year rate in Manchester increased from 13.35% to 15.84%, while the four-year state average rose from 4.95% to 5.06%.

“Our drop-out rate is a challenge. During the 2013-14 school year, we worked diligently to reduce the numbers,” said Dr. Debra Livingston, superintendent of the Manchester School District. “High school principals, assistant principals and guidance staff organized a strong outreach effort to encourage students to complete their high school educations, and our numbers since last summer are showing results.”

The city’s high schools have embraced the challenge and stress the importance of personal counsel and conversations to re-enroll students who leave school or prevent students who are at risk of dropping out from doing so.

“In many cases, students who dropped out were very close to meeting graduation requirements,” said Chris Motika, principal of Manchester High School West. “Knowing that non-traditional approaches can make the difference, we helped match those students up with the right teachers or programs to achieve diplomas.”

Every high school offers various initiatives and ways to help students graduate, including flexibility in scheduling, allowing for interdisciplinary credit, and extended learning opportunities. Students’ progress is closely monitored.

“We are very pleased with the hard work and results to date, but we know the rate could be even lower,” said Dr. Livingston. “One student dropping out is too many. We will continue meeting the needs of all students using innovative, engaging and thoughtful approaches to education.”

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