Report: Dropouts down, crime up in NC schools

Posted March 3, 2011

— The number of dropouts from North Carolina schools hit a record low last year, and school suspensions and expulsions also declined, officials said Thursday.

Reports of crime and violence in public schools statewide were up, however, officials said.

The annual dropout rate fell from 4.27 percent of high school students in 2008-09 to 3.75 percent last year, which state education officials said was the lowest rate ever recorded.

"Every student who stays in school to graduate is one more student who leaves high school college or career ready,” State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison said in a statement.

Last year, 16,804 high school students left school before graduating. Officials said that is the fewest since exemptions for students leaving for community college were disallowed beginning in the late 1990s.

All ethnic groups now have dropout rates of less than 5 percent, but rates among most minorities continue to be far above those of whites, according to a state report.

In Wake County, 1,494 students dropped out last year, up from 1,430 the year before. Durham County reported the same number of dropouts, 444, both years. The number of dropouts in Cumberland County went from 638 in 2008-09 to 518 last year, while Johnston County's numbers fell from 411 to 340.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools continues to have one of the lowest dropout rates statewide, at 0.95 percent, or 35 students.

Suspensions also declined last year, according to a state report. Short-term suspensions – those less that 10 days – dropped by 5.5 percent, while long-term suspensions were down 6.2 percent.

About one of every six North Carolina high school students was suspended last year.

School expulsions statewide dropped from 116 in 2008-09 to 88 last year, a state report shows. As with dropouts, ninth-graders accounted for the largest number of students expelled.

Meanwhile, the rate of acts of crime and violence in schools statewide increased by 5 percent last year, with 11,608 acts reported. Possession of a controlled substance at school, possession of a weapon and possession of alcohol accounted for more than 9,600 of those reports.


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  • Plenty Coups Mar 4, 2011

    There is no logical reason to force troublemakers to stay in school so they can disrupt learning for others just so the statistics look good. That being said, school systems did that after being heavily criticized for their high number of dropouts/suspenions etc. From both ideological sides. Republicans use it to bolster their argument about our "failing" public schools. Liberals moan about how we're reinforcing the dropout to prison path.

  • grilled chesus Mar 4, 2011

    it all starts with the parents. 'nough said.

  • flyingcheetah92 Mar 4, 2011

    " Issue no drivers license to dropouts under 18 years old. Just one little incentive." Dogpatch

    They already do that, and additionally if you are not passing at least 70% of the classes you are in then you also lose your drivers license.

  • Dogpatch Mar 4, 2011

    You cannot teach those who want to learn with constant disruptions and distractions. Issue no drivers license to dropouts under 18 years old. Just one little incentive.

  • lowepg Mar 4, 2011

    No comment in the WRAL story about the shocking disparity in crime/dropout/suspensions when adjusted for ethnicity? Do we just assume it now? I find it extremey disturbing.

    And some folks in Wake County want to DEFEND continued diversity policies?!?!!

  • Vietnam Vet Mar 3, 2011

    "My 13 year old freshman had an elective class with a 20 year old that still hadn't graduated."
    What is a 20 year old doing still in high school?? Why wasn't he just pushed through the grades like so many others.

  • JustBeReal Mar 3, 2011

    Just remember the Wake County School Board when elections come around again...Sounds like a real good flushing is in order.

    These are the same folks who "chickened out" and decided to pass the buck for Mr Tata to make decisions about social diversity. Sure Wake County School Board...real easy to simply toss the hot potato to the new guy, then its all his issue. Sounds like some folks on the Board just aint got guts.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Mar 3, 2011

    Based on this report, we need more charter schools.

  • georgegray Mar 3, 2011

    Yet more evidence that the guilt-ridden elites in our society are destroying the middle and top students by forcing schools to spend all their resources on students at the bottom. I'm not saying give up on the struggling students, but at some point we do need to do a little cost-benefit analysis.

  • JustBeReal Mar 3, 2011

    We recently met with a Vice Principal of a Wake COunty School to discuss issues in our childs class that was upsetting them. He told us that the schools have been handcuffed by the Wake County School Board. He told us of one incident recently where in trying to get a child suspended, he had to go before the Wake County School Board...THIS CHILD REFREERED TO WAS SELLING DRUGS ON SCHOOL GROUNDS.
    You mean to tell me that our school board has to make this decision. And guess what...they didnt suspend the child...God forbid a suspension show up on a givernment report and impact lets instead keep the drug dealers and trouble makers in school. I know there has to be a public record somewhere on the school board records and I would sure love to see this story be brought into the light for all to see. Then maybe Bill Clinton will really have something worthwhile to complain about...our leaders on the Wake COunty School Board.