Georgia’s newest dropout rate numbers indicate that just 67% of our students are completing high school. The last year’s numbers represented 81% of students graduating. While the new number is certainly alarming, it is also less extreme than it seems compared to last year’s figures. The new formula for reporting high school graduation rates requires students to finish on time. That means that students who take more than 4 years to graduate are automatically placed into the “drop out” category, even if they do eventually graduate in their 5th or 6th year of high school.
As a parent, it is more than a little bit disconcerting that our graduation rate is so very low. As a member of the community and someone entrenched in our state’s education, it increases my awareness and advocacy for issues around the high school drop out rate.
North Carolina has increased their high school graduation rates by 3-4% every year since 2006. While 3-4% may not impress you, I can assure you it has made a difference to those students. North Carolina can even brag that they have schools with 100% graduation rates. Using the same model that we now use, their current graduation rate is nearly 78%. While it is still lower than ideal, they are making improvements consistently.
There is no reason Georgia shouldn’t be able to show improvement also. And, with so far to go, we should have an easy enough time getting community support. For example, if in a given community the business owners donated only one employee’s time to spend at a school on one day a week, there would be hundreds, thousands even, of individuals who could mentor students. Children need advocates, someone in their world, hearing their perspective and bridging gaps. There is an African proverb that we know well, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a parent, I can’t help but agree that my friends who know my child well often offer perspective and observations that I’ve missed.
What mentor programs exist in your community? What after school programs are showing positive results with your students?