Officials: New method gives more accurate Miss. dropout rate

Published 4:46 pm Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mississippi Department of Education officials say the state’s dropout rate is 15.9 percent, when counted with what they consider a more accurate system for tracking graduates.

State Superintendent Hank Bounds released the figures for the class of 2007 on Wednesday showing the state’s graduation rate is 73.8 percent.

Mississippi is now calculating graduation and dropout rates with the National Governors Association method, which tracks students from the time they begin ninth grade to the time they finish, regardless of whether it takes longer than four years. It also accounts for students who move out of the state.

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Bounds said the state had 187 more students graduating in 2007 than 2006, when comparing the years with the new counting method.

“The trend lines show that we are making improvement in our graduation and dropout rates,” Bounds said in a news release. “Our dropout prevention initiatives that began in 2008 have us on track to meet our goal of reducing the dropout rate by 50 percent in the next five to seven years.

“The slight uptick in graduation rates from the year before we even began our dropout prevention focus gives us a good starting place.”

The state’s prevention initiatives include an advertising campaign, summits for teens, business and community leaders, and a school redesign project to better prepare students for the work force.

The redesign project calls for new courses, equipment, teacher training and career pathways that students in grades 10 through 12 can select. It’s already going in 14 districts and will be expanded to 19 more this fall.

Bounds said online courses, flexible classroom hours and more study options that include dual college credit are among the components he believes will reduce the dropout rate.