Local News

N.C. graduation rate flat

Posted August 7, 2008

— Seven of 10 North Carolina high school students graduated in 2008 within four years of entering high school, state education officials said Thursday.

The graduation rate was about the same as a year ago – 69.9 percent compared with 69.5 percent in 2007 – and state Superintendent of Education June Atkinson said communities must do more to emphasize high school graduation to students.

"Students in North Carolina need to hear one message from kindergarten all the way through school, and that message is graduate," Atkinson said in a statement. "This needs to be the minimum expectation for every student."

State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee challenged schools and communities to provide the encouragement, support and expectations students need to stay in school.

"The world is going to be a very tough place for young people who enter the work force without a high school diploma," Lee said in a statement. "In reality, a high school diploma is a minimum requirement. Students are going to need additional schooling and training in order to support themselves and their families."

Asian students posted the highest graduation rate statewide, at more than 80 percent, followed by white students at 75 percent. Sixty-two percent of black students graduated within four years, while Hispanic and Native American students both had graduation rates of about 56 percent.

Seventy-four percent of girls graduated within four years statewide, compared with 66 percent of boys.

Lee and Atkinson said they were concerned by the so-called "achievement gap" between white students and most minority students.

"We have to have extended strategies to meet the needs of students so they can graduate," Atkinson said.

Wake Forest-Rolesville High School Principal Andre Smith said a program that includes Saturday classes helps keep graduation numbers up at his school. The school's latest rate is 83 percent.

"We're very proud, but we have a lot of work to do. The issue of graduation rate is very complex," Smith said. "I believe that you can bridge that (achievement) gap, but you're going to need a lot of support."

Although the graduation rates of some groups have increased in recent years, the rate for economically disadvantaged students has fallen to 59 percent. Atkinson said she believes that is a reflection of the nation's struggling economy, which has affected a growing number of North Carolina families.

"When you're dealing with individuals coming from impoverished homes, often times they take a look and see what the priorities are," Smith said. "(They may choose) Wake Tech (or) employment."

In Wake County, about 79 percent of students graduated in 2008. The graduation rate in Durham County was 63 percent, and it was 75 percent in Orange and Johnston counties. Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools had an 88 percent graduation rate, and Cumberland County had a 71 percent rate.

The 30 percent of North Carolina students who didn't graduate in the most recent four-year period either dropped out or are still trying to finish their required classes, officials said.


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  • TheAdmiral Aug 8, 2008

    Whatelseisnew -

    I have to agree and add one more thing to it. If you have parents who have the "Well... I can't make him/her do anything..." attitude, you are not going to have a kid that gives a flip about themselves.

    The parents do not instill self-respect into their kids, and it bleeds over because they have no respect for anyone else.

  • mpheels Aug 8, 2008

    I think part of the problem is an emphasis on college prep to the neglect of other training. College is great, I'm glad I went, but many skilled trades essential to our society do not require a 4 year college degree. In many school districts kids are either tracked for college or to drop out. There is no middle ground for the kid who has great aptitude for skilled trade but no interest in college.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 7, 2008

    Typical comments by the "Admiral". Ever wonder why the Asian graduation rate is so high? What about the rate in Chapel Hill? Maybe culture and family expectations have a little more to do with graduation rates than the school system?

  • ohmygosh Aug 7, 2008

    I'm more interested in closing the gap between the asian and white students. If we were to follow the conventional path, that would mean neglecting to teach the asians more.

  • Brindy Aug 7, 2008

    Another problem...why shold they graduate when they know they can sell drugs, rob people and sells the goods,etc... why can they do this??? Because the justice system is a joke! 10th grade drop out- "I ain't gotta go to school, I can sell drugs and make a bundle of cash. I ain't gonna go to jail. My friend been arrested 12 times an' he ain't been to jail yet!" 1st offense-slap on the wrist, 2nd, 3rd, 4th 5th offenses-slap on the wrist, 6th offense- probation-no wait, slap on the wrist, 17th offense-ahhhhh JAILTIME- 15 days.....

    It's a lot more appealing to people when they know their chances of going to jail are slim to none.

  • knowyourrole Aug 7, 2008

    We hear over and over how economics is tied to the dropout rate. I can certainly see how this affects teens deciding to leave school. However, an interesting fact that does not support this theory involves the large percentage of graduates produced in past decades who came from very poor homes. One of my parents was raised extremely poor by two parents. The father was an alcoholic and they lived in a two-room house. They farmed and had very little, including clothing. The oldest child (my parent) and three siblings all graduated from high school with decent grades and have maintained productive lives. Dropping out was not an option afforded them. My point is that the value of education to the parents is a greater driving force than economics. Too many people want to use poverty as an excuse!

  • whatelseisnew Aug 7, 2008

    Graduation responsibility is owned by the Students and only the students. The opportunity to the the work and to graduate is provided for them. They even get free transportation to the place where the teachers work. The parents can not do the work and learning for the student, they can only provide support and encouragement. The rest is up to the student.

  • Navy Vet Aug 7, 2008

    I remember when the school board came out with a 112% graduation rate. They got that number by factoring the amount of students entering thier freshman year and how many students ended thier senior year. As if the student body was entact throughout the four years. It somehow didnt matter that the student body grew from students moving into the area over the 4 years being tracked. SO it doesnt matter how you GET your numbers..it only matters what you GET the number to say.
    Our kids deserve better.

  • TheAdmiral Aug 7, 2008

    Hmmm. Test scores improve but the graduation rate is flat.

    I think the school system has some splainin to do.

  • hawk_fan Aug 7, 2008

    rationality -- You know, that does make sense.