Cary, N.C. — The Wake County Public School System's dropout rate decreased to 2.83 percent in the 2011-12 school year, lower than the state average of 3.01 percent, the district said Thursday, citing data from the state Department of Public Instruction.
The number of high school students who dropped out, 1,236, was 150 fewer than in the 2010-11 school year, according to the DPI data.
At the same time, the school system's population increased from 41,407 to 42,134 students, the school system said.
"We will continue to focus our efforts on pushing that rate lower," Interim Superintendent Stephen Gainey said in a statement. "As a former high school principal, I can tell you there is no prouder moment than watching your students walk across the graduation stage."
Dropout rates also improved for student demographics, dropping nearly a full percentage point over last year for black and Hispanic/Latino students, to 4.58 percent and 4.95 percent, respectively.
Among students identified as being economically disadvantaged, the rate fell from 5.3 percent to 4.69 percent. Among students with disabilities, it fell from 6.5 percent to 5.39 percent.
The dropout rate has been on a decline for the past 14 years.
School officials credit the dwindling numbers to dropout prevention programs that identify students who are at risk of dropping out, reaching out to those who have dropped out to get them to return and providing additional access to alternative learning programs for students.
In 2011-12, 13,488 high school students dropped out statewide, compared with 15,342 in 2010-11.
About 70 percent of the state's 115 school districts saw decreases. Chapel-Hill-Carrboro City Schools had one of the lowest dropout rates in the state, at 1.02 percent.
"Principals, teachers and support staff should be praised for their efforts to ensure that students are staying on track to complete their education and achieve success after graduation," state Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said in a statement.
Here's a look at how other state and local school systems faired:
|School system||2010-11 rate||2011-12 rate||Percent change|
|Roanoke Rapids City||3.74||5.52||48.5|