Calhoun Dropout Rate Decreases

Calhoun County’s dropout rate  dropped to single digits in 2008, but
Superintendent Mike Moore says he believes it will drop even further in
the years to come.


By JOEL?McNEECE
Calhoun County’s dropout rate  dropped to single digits in 2008, but Superintendent Mike Moore says he believes it will drop even further in the years to come.
Calhoun County’s dropout rate for 2008 was 9.6%, down from 12.2% in 2007, according to reports recently released from the Mississippi Department of Education.
Moore attributed the decrease to improved techniques of identifying students “in trouble” and getting them assistance they need to catch up.
“It’s critical that we are able to identify these students as early as possible,” Moore said.
The school district’s small size is a great asset in that effort, Moore said.
“Our schools are small enough that our principals, counselors and teachers know all the kids and are able to talk with them,” Moore said. “I remember when I was at Olive Branch I had 2,000 kids. It’s virtually impossible to keep up with that many. It allows for too many to slip through the cracks. The smallness of our schools allows us to have that personal contact with all of our students.”
A new program to be initiated next year at the Career and Technical Center should help shrink the county’s dropout rate even further, Moore said.
The district plans to begin its own GED program at the Career and Technical Center by employing a retired teacher that could teach half days. The district already has a transportation system that can deliver the students to the center inside the vo-tech.
Moore explained this will allow the district to help students who are too far behind to meet degree requirements while also requiring them to take a vocational course.
“This way they’re earning their GED and learning a skill at the same time,” Moore said.
The GED opens up the door for these students to attend community college. A score of better than 500 on the GED exam even qualifies most for scholarships.
“Right now we have some kids that will get in trouble, get expelled and fall so far behind in their academic work that we often lose them as a dropout,”  Moore said. “This program will allow us to keep them in school and still achieve success toward a college education and career.”
The program will also be a great benefit to the school district in its accreditation.
A new evaluation model adopted by the state will give school districts credit for students who complete GED work, rather than counting them against the district as a dropout, as in the past.
Even students who have earned their GED through the adult education center at Bruce have been considered dropouts of the school district under the old state policy.
“These programs are going to be very beneficial to us in Calhoun County and I expect to see our dropout rates dropping in the coming years as a result,” Moore said.

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