By Jessica Groover
Cabarrus County Schools announced that the dropout rate for the 2007-08 school year remained about the same compared to the 2006-07 year.
Three hundred and ninety-four students left the system’s high schools, with a rate of 4.76 during 2007-08, compared to the 383 students and rate of 4.77 for the 2006-07 year.
“Our dropout rate is not good, but it’s better than it ever has been in history,” said Wayne Williams, vice chair for the county board of education. “We’re not where we want to be, but we’re doing pretty well.”
During the 2004-05 school year, the rate rose to 5.24 and dropped to 5.03 during the 2005-06 year.
Students who are considered dropouts are ones who have withdrawn from school before graduation.
They include those who attend community college classes and students who have moved to a new school and not requested for their transcript to be transferred.
The school system boasted that its dropout rate for 2007-08 is below the state average. The statewide dropout rate was 4.97 percent for the 2007-08 school year, according to a report released on Thursday.
And with the impact from the economy, a high school diploma is even more essential for students, said Holly Blackwelder, chair for the board of education.
“This is not the time for students to leave school without a diploma at a time when the job market is so competitive,” Blackwelder said.
She acknowledged that some parents might also want students to help support their family during the economic hardship, but Blackwelder said she hoped families would encourage their children to do well and stay in school.
“We need for the community to value education,” Blackwelder said. “If the community doesn’t value education, then the students won’t.”
According to the state report, attendance is the main reason for students to leave the school system, with enrollment at a community college without a high school degree being the second highest reason.
“We want to impress why attendance is so important,” Blackwelder said. “If students get behind, they get frustrated.”
She and the rest of the board said they hope that the new strategic plan will help the rates decrease more but said that it takes a year or more to see the results.
• Contact reporter Jessica Groover: 704-789-9152.