Dropouts decline in Wake, statewide
Posted April 2, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Dropout rates in Wake, Durham and across the state are on the decline along with reported crime acts within schools, according to 2012-13 numbers released Wednesday by the state Department of Public Instruction.
The consolidated data report, released annually by DPI, provides legislators, state school board members and the public with numbers regarding crime and violence, suspensions and expulsions, and dropout rates for the state’s 115 public school districts.
The Wake County Public School System had 6.95 “reportable acts” of crime per 1,000 K-12 students, lower than the state average of 7.20 and lowest among the state’s five largest school districts. Wake’s rate was 7.53 in 2011-12. The district’s rate for high school is 12.63 with 540 reportable acts, the second lowest among large school districts.
Wake’s short-term suspension rate of 16.18 per 1,000 students – totaling 6,917 suspensions – is also the lowest among the state’s five largest districts. The school system’s decrease in dropouts by 29.6 percent is one of the largest declines statewide.
The district’s numbers come as the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing a complaint filed in January alleging that the district’s school policing policies and practices “unnecessarily and unlawfully punish and criminalize minor misbehaviors and disproportionately harm African-American students and students with disabilities.
African-American students made up 62 percent of those suspended in Wake County schools in 2012-13, according to the state report.
The number of students dropping out of Wake schools fell from 1236 to 870, a 29.6 percentage drop.
Durham Public Schools’ dropout rate fell for the sixth consecutive year, from 3.55 percent to 3.22 percent. The number of students dropping out fell by 11 percent from 362 to 323.
“We’re committed to working with every individual student to keep them engaged in school and prepared for careers and college,” DPS Interim Superintendent Hugh Osteen said in a statement. “We’re helping them commit to a brighter future.”
More proactive support from social workers, an early warning tracking system and a general diploma for students not seeking higher education has helped reduce those numbers, the district said.
The district's high school short-term suspension rate decreased by 38 percent, a drop the district attributes to “a renewed focus on positive behavior intervention support and flexibility for school administrators to take into consideration mitigating circumstances.”
Durham schools had a rate of 18.66 reportable acts of crime per 1,000 students in grades 9-13, totaling 176 incidents.
How other area districts fared
- Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools had the fifth lowest rate of high school short-term suspensions and the lowest rate of high school dropouts. The district earned “top 10” honors in both categories.
- Vance (2), Franklin (4) and Person (8) were among school districts with the highest rate of high school dropouts.
- Halifax (4), Northampton (7) and Granville (8) counties were among school districts with the highest rate of high school reportable crimes. Hoke County had the third largest three year increase in rates of high school reportable crimes.
- Halifax (2), Northampton (4) and Bertie (10) counties had the highest rate of high school short-term suspensions. Bertie also had the fifth largest three year percentage increase in short-term suspensions. Bertie’s rates were above the state average in 2012-13.
- Granville County had the second largest three year percentage decrease of high school suspensions.
- The high school dropout rate decreased from 3.01 percent to 2.45 percent.
- The number of reported acts of school crime and violence decreased by 4.8 percent to 10,630 from 11,161.
- The rate of reported acts per 1,000 students decreased by 5.6 percent to 7.20 acts per 1,000 students, a drop from 7.63 acts per 1,000 students in 2011-12.
- Dangerous or violent offenses account for 3 percent of all crime reported at school. The most frequently reported acts were illegal possession of controlled substances, weapons (excluding firearms or powerful explosives) or alcoholic beverages, and assault on school personnel. These four acts accounted for 96 percent, or 10,155, of the total number of reported acts.
- Short-term suspensions (10 days or fewer) decreased by 4 percent from 258,197 to 247,919.
- Long-term suspensions (11 days or more) decreased by 11.6 percent from 1,609 to 1,423.
- Expulsions increased from 30 to 37. High school students made up 28 of those expulsions.