Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 2, 2013

Right direction

More graduates, fewer dropouts

More Allegany County public school students are earning their high school diplomas, while at the same time fewer are dropping out of school. That was the good news in a report released last week by the Allegany County Board of Education.

School officials have begun following a set group of students from their freshman through senior years to pinpoint how they are performing academically. Called a four-year cohort rate, the process found that the local graduation rate in 2012 rose to 89.84 percent. That is more than two percentage points higher than the 2010 rate of 87.21.

As for dropouts, in 2010 more than one out of 10 students left school. The 2012 rate was much improved, at 6.68 percent.

The 2013 senior class was the fifth class required to pass the High School Assessment in algebra/data analysis, biology and English to graduate. Beginning with this year’s ninth-grade class, passing the government assessment subjects will again become a graduation requirement.

Of the students who received a diploma in the spring, 86.2 percent met the standard HSA requirement and 13.8 percent met the requirement through the alternative Bridge Plan for Academic Validation, which is the project-based alternative to the HSA exams.  

David Cox, superintendent of the Allegany County public school system, said school systems across the nation are trying to comply with federal No Child Left Behind Act academic standards. “The targets will continue to rise over the next four years. We are pleased that our students continue to graduate at increasingly higher rates due to the focused hard work of our teachers, principals, specialists, instructional staff and the students themselves,” he said.

Reducing the dropout rate at a time when the local economy has struggled is a commendable improvement. Students who quit school before graduating are more likely than their peers to be unemployed, have poor health, live in poverty, be on public assistance, and be single parents.

The improved diploma and dropout rates being recorded for Allegany County are encouraging.

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