NC dropout prevention group: More students graduating despite poverty

Posted March 2, 2016 3:46 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 2:04 p.m. EDT


— A North Carolina dropout prevention group released its annual report Wednesday and said a majority of the public school students it served last year either moved up to the next grade or graduated "despite high levels of poverty and other significant barriers to success."

The group, Communities in Schools of North Carolina, hires and trains student support specialists who work in schools to help identify students who are struggling with attendance, behavior and classwork.

The group served about 180,000 students in nearly 400 schools across the state last year. About 19,000 of those students received intensive support. Among the successes last school year, according to the group:

  • 96 percent of students served by CIS were promoted to the next grade
  • 98 percent of 12th grade students served by CIS graduated at the close of the 2014-15 school year
  • 78 percent of CIS students who received intensive intervention moved on to post-secondary education. Others entered the workforce, certification or apprenticeship programs or the military.

"Ninety-two percent of our students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, so we are truly serving the most at-risk students with very positive result," CIS Vice President Jill Cox wrote in an email Wednesday.

The group currently serves 39 of 115 school districts in the state. At the State Board of Education meeting Wednesday, some members said they would like the group to expand its outreach. School board member Becky Taylor, who serves the northeast region of the state, said her region is not represented very well, adding that "there's a great need."

Communities in Schools 2015-16

CIS CEO Eric Hall said he hopes to expand to six northeast counties next year, from Granville to Bertie. His group also plans to move "aggressively to get in more elementary schools" to help students earlier. But getting enough funding has been a roadblock, Hall said, adding that he wants to secure more federal funds and financial support from businesses in the state.

"Part of it is leveraging business partners in ways we haven’t in the past," he said.